With option decisions due today, the Brewers still had two decisions to make. They figured out one of the options earlier today by trading Chase Anderson to the Blue Jays. The other option was just finalized earlier, as the Brewers decided to decline the option on Eric Thames.
The #Brewers have exercised the 2020 club option on C Manny Piña and declined the 2020 club option on 1B Eric Thames, who becomes a free agent.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) November 4, 2019
RHP Corey Knebel and RHP Bobby Wahl have been reinstated from the 60-day injured list. pic.twitter.com/AbrICLLbol
In his three years with the Brewers, Thames’ production has been a bit volatile, After a strong 2017, his struggles in 2018, along with the emergence of Jesus Aguilar, led to him being left on the bench for most of the stretch run that year and off the postseason roster entirely. He bounced back in 2019, posting a 119 wRC+ and re-taking the regular starting job at first base. Over the three years, he posted a 4.9 fWAR overall, with a 1.9 fWAR in 2019.
With Aguilar gone, Thames figured to be the starting first baseman for the Brewers going into 2020. However, that is no longer set, and the first base position may be open now. The Brewers do have a few other players that can play first base (most notably Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw), so could attempt to fill that spot internally for now.
This may not be the end for Eric Thames just yet, though. Robert Murray reports that the Brewers may bring Thames back, though at a lower price.
Brewers did not pick up Eric Thames’ $7.5 million club option. Look for them to try to bring Thames back at lower price, although he is expected to garner strong interest from teams overseas.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) November 4, 2019
With the Brewers having to fill several holes this offseason, saving a little money with Eric Thames might help them do that. However, it also exposes Thames to free agency, where another team could swoop in and get him. Plus, if the Brewers are also bidding against overseas teams, that will make it more difficult.
Also, the Brewers officially exercised the option on Manny Piña, and officially added Corey Knebel and Bobby Wahl back onto the 40-man roster from the 60-day DL. Piña’s option had been reported last week, and adding Knebel and Wahl back to the 40-man roster is standard procedure following the end of the season.
The offseason is just getting underway, and GM David Stearns is already hard at work improving this team. We’ll have to wait and see what else he has planned.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.