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
Buyout: $1 million
Of all the one-year-plus-an-option players David Stearns signed in the last offseason, it certainly feels like Jedd Gyorko was really the only one to work out as expected.
Gyorko didn’t sign with the team until January and was coming off an injury-riddled year that may have damaged his value on the market more than it should have. After all, prior to 2019, he was still a perfectly serviceable infielder worth about 2 fWAR per year, with enough pop to hit 20 to 30 home runs at his peak and solid enough with the glove that he could play just about anywhere on the infield.
The signing itself seemed to be met with a resounding “meh” at the time, possibly due to low-ceiling-signing fatigue, but some of us still felt there was some value there — at the very least as a lefty masher following a couple years where it felt like the Brewers struggled in that area.
Gyorko ended up being possibly the most consistent Brewers bat in 2020, and while we can take cracks at what that says about the other guys who took swings this year, the numbers show he was a legitimately good player. He put up 0.7 fWAR in 43 games, which would have had him on pace for roughly 1.9 fWAR in a full year. His 118 wRC+ was above league average, and he was one of the few Brewers to consistently make strong contact — he ranked in the 95th percentile in the league in Barrel%, according to Statcast, and in the 72nd percentile in Hard Hit%. His 9 home runs would’ve had him on pace for the mid-20s in a full year.
He also proved to be a steady defender at third base, a bonus in an otherwise defensively-challenged infield. It’s just unfortunate that the lack of production from first base meant he was slotted there in the lineup more often than he should have been, and he wasn’t nearly as fluid as he would have been at a more natural position (as evidenced by his occasional struggles with handling short hops).
Putting that aside, though, it’s hard to imagine just how much worse the Brewers would have been had it not been for Gyorko being one of the few people in the lineup that showed anything resembling power. It feels like the Brewers got their money’s worth with their year of Gyorko — but the question is if he’s worth another $4.5 million in what will be his age-32 season.
For what it’s worth, the free agent market for third basemen doesn’t look too great again this winter, and the Brewers don’t have any real options in the upper levels of the minor league system (and depending on prospects in 2021 who may be coming off a year-plus of not playing competitive games would be a dicey proposition even if they did have someone waiting). With a buyout of $1 million, the question David Stearns & Co. have to answer is this — could you find something better for $3.5 million or less?
We’ve talked about how many teams — not just the Brewers — will be concerned about their budgets this winter (as I write this, news is breaking that Cleveland is waiving All-Star reliever Brad Hand after a season in which he had an ERA barely over 2 to avoid paying a $10 million option). It’s possible the market could soon be flooded with quality players who had options declined or were non-tendered. But would they be better than the .838 OPS and 121 OPS+ Gyorko was able to put up this year? And how much do you want to buy into that supposed bounceback when you only have 42 games to look at?
For what it’s worth, even the cheapest of teams have a guy or two making what Gyorko would be owed in 2021. And cutting loose one of your few productive bats after the year you just limped through would be a tough sell. Then again — this front office typically hasn’t concerned itself with public reaction.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast
What should the Brewers do with Jedd Gyorko’s $4.5 million team option?
This poll is closed