The Milwaukee Brewers have just one true free agent who is set to hit the open market after the conclusion of the World Series, as we explored late last week. But there may be a few other players on the team who will join Brett Anderson in searching for a new deal this offseason. David Stearns and company have four contract options to deal with for 2020, and some decisions will be easier than others:
OF Ryan Braun
$15 mil mutual option ($4 mil buyout)
Might this really be it for Ryan Braun after parts of 14 seasons suiting up for the Cream City Nine? The soon-to-be 37 year old was limited to only 39 games and 141 plate appearances thanks to various maladies this past season (including an infected finger) but was still an effective bat when he was in there, finishing with a .233/.281/.488 slash line and 8 home runs for a 101 OPS+ despite a career-low .232 BABIP. All of the rhetoric coming out from org sounds as though it is a foregone conclusion that the option will be declined; his interviews makes it seem like Braun is leaning towards retirement but he may not decide for certain until after the calendar turns to 2021. DH or not, if Braun wants to play one more year next season, it would be a bad look if the two sides can’t work out some sort of reduced deal to bring him back for the swan song he deserves with the only professional organization that he’s ever known. He also needs just 37 more hits to reach 2,000 for his career, so there might be interest in coming back to reach that milestone.
IF Jedd Gyorko
$4.5 mil club option ($1 mil buyout)
Of all the bounce back/buy-low candidates that the Brewers brought in while retooling last winter, Gyorko was the only offensive player who really worked out. It took awhile for Jedd to find himself in the lineup on an everyday basis, but he wound up finishing as the best qualified hitter on the team (121 OPS+) and with the highest bWAR among position players (0.6). Gyorko made eight starts at third base and looked fine over there but eventually took the reigns as everyday first baseman after Justin Smoak was let go. Gyorko’s bat cooled off a bit during the last two weeks of the season, but after hitting .248/.333/.504 with 9 home runs in 135 plate appearances, the club might have interest in exercising Jedd’s option as there are holes at both the hot and cold corners that will need to addressed.
IF Eric Sogard
$4.5 mil club option ($500K buyout)
Nerd Power enjoyed a career-best season in 2019 that looked like an outlier compared to his other years in the big leagues, but Stearns was willing to bet on Sogard as the strong side of a third base platoon with Gyorko. The gamble did not work out. Eric did make 22 starts at third base as well as appearances at second, short, and left field, but he did not produce any value with his bat, hitting .209/.281/.278 with one home run in 128 plate appearances. That translated to a 52 OPS+ and -0.4 bWAR. Sogard will turn 35 next season and with all the talk about how “revenue is down” and the game’s economic uncertainty, it would qualify as a surprise to see Sogard’s option exercised.
OF Ben Gamel
$2.55 mil club option
Gamel cooled off after a very hot start to the season, but he still finished with an overall solid .237/.315/.404 slash line and three home runs in 127 plate appearances. He came into the year as the fourth outfielder but wound up seeing regular action after Lorenzo Cain’s opt-out, with time in both center field and right. Gamel has been steady during his two seasons in Milwaukee but he isn’t generally the type of player who should see the field everyday, so the Brewers will have to decide if they want to retain him as a reserve outfielder or if they would rather save some money and give someone like Tyrone Taylor the keys to that role. The Brewers might just decline the option anyway; Gamel would still be under arbitration control for another two years before becoming eligible for free agency, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he would earn somewhere between $1.7 mil and $2.1 mil through that process.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference