The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly set out to cut payroll in 2020, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The Milwaukee #Brewers, who are planning to cut payroll, led all #MLB with five non-tenders, followed by the #SFGiants and #Royals.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2019
Nightengale followed up his tweet by writing shortly after that that rival executives indicated the Milwaukee Brewers would be operating at a reduced payroll in 2020.
The #Brewers will undoubtedly have a smaller payroll this year, which several rival executives acknowledged during GM meetings https://t.co/xmcVFvRDvj— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2019
With so much turnover occurring and reports like the one above, it would be normal for any Brewers fan to be concerned. While not speaking to the reporting done by Nightengale, David Stearns addressed those concerns to the media.
David Stearns cautions against drawing too-early conclusions about the Brewers' payroll purge in recent weeks: "We certainly intend to be competitive once again next year. ... We've got a lot of offseason left."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 3, 2019
Stearns: "We intend on being competitive once again next year. We think we have a quality team and will continue to complement and add to that team throughout the rest of the offseason. We've got a lot of offseason left."— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 3, 2019
David Stearns is articulating intention to be competitive and an intention to fill up the 40-man roster with quality players. While Milwaukee was liberal in non tendering players, they are not the only team to use the non-tender deadline to pare down their roster. Per Jeff Passan, 13 more players were non-tendered on deadline day across MLB than were in 2018.
There were 40 players eligible for arbitration who were non-tendered today. Last year, that number was 27. The year before, 19.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2019
Teams are clearly being aggressive with tenders, recognizing that if there is better value on the open market, using the arb system is not necessary.
In failing to re-sign their biggest free agents, non-tendering five players from the roster, trading away long-term rotational cogs Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, and declining Eric Thames’ 2020 option, the Milwaukee Brewers are in jeopardy of having a vastly different team on the field for Opening Day next spring. But that does not necessarily mean they will have a bad team or embark on another rebuild. With so much room to play with in the payroll, might Stearns and Company be preparing for something substantial? On the other hand, will the front office brain trust try to put together a “competitive” team on the cheap?
Only time will tell.