Now that the World Series is over, the Brewers have less than a week to make decisions on the team options they hold on players for next season. This week we’ll take a look at those options and give you a poll on whether those options should be accepted or declined.
2021 Team Option: $4.5 million
When the Brewers brought back Eric Sogard last winter on a one-year, $4.5 million deal with a $4.5 million option for a second year, their infield situation looked a bit different than it does now.
When the agreement was made on December 18th, the Brewers were just a few weeks removed from acquiring Luis Urias from San Diego, but it was no guarantee that Urias would be on the big league roster to start the 2020 season after playing just 71 games in the majors in 2019. Orlando Arcia was also coming off one of the worst offensive seasons in recorded history.
The Brewers needed some insurance up the middle, and Sogard was at least a known quantity to the Brewers’ front office — he’ll rarely make mistakes defensively, even if the arm isn’t great, and he’ll draw walks at the top of the lineup — with the added hope that he had found some gap power after leaving Milwaukee.
That power, predictably, turned out to be a mirage thanks to the Super Bouncy Ball of 2019, as he collected all of 6 extra-base hits in 128 plate appearances in 2020. For awhile, his ability to get on base by other means at least meant he was making outs less frequently than a lot of other Brewers in the lackluster lineup, but eventually those dried up, too.
That left Sogard virtually unplayable down the stretch, especially as Arcia proved to be one of the more consistent bats in the lineup and the Brewers opted to see what they had in Urias instead. He saw his playing time reduced dramatically in September, only making 3 starts that month before the final week of the season, when he started in 5 of the team’s last 8 games.
He ended the year with a .209/.281/.278 batting line, adding up to a .560 OPS, which was the 9th-worst OPS in the majors for anyone who got at least 120 plate appearances (only slightly better than Omar Narvaez, who rounded out the bottom 10 with a .562 OPS).
His average exit velocity of 84.4 mph was nearly 4 mph below Major League average, and ranked in the bottom 3% of the league. With no reason to fear pitching him in the zone, he saw a lot more pitches there — which he just wasn’t able to do anything with. He also struggled mightily with breaking pitches, going just 1-for-23 against them.
Those aren’t just bad numbers. At age 34 this year, those are numbers that might indicate a major league career is done.
Declining the option seems like a likely move at this point, considering the $4 million in savings the Brewers would pick up in what’s already been hinted as an offseason of austerity, Arcia’s offensive improvements and the investments in Urias. Even if David Stearns wants an insurance policy for those two, it’s likely he could find a player similar to Sogard for less money — possibly even a minor league deal — late in the offseason.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast
What should the Brewers do with Eric Sogard’s $4.5 million team option?
This poll is closed