Teams have until December 2nd to decide whether to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. The Brewers have a slew of players up for raises this winter, but the uncertain financial situation for teams across the league could lead to some surprising non-tenders. Who will the Brewers keep among their arbitration-eligibles, and who will they let go? We take a look at each player’s case.
1B/DH Daniel Vogelbach
2020 Salary: Pre-Arbitration
2021 Projection: Between $1.4 million and $1.9 million
DFAed twice in 2020 — once for performance and once for a roster spot — Vogelbach ended up sticking with the Brewers and arguably helped rescue an offense that was flatlining down the stretch. In 19 games, Vogelbach put up a .328/.418/.569 line with 4 home runs and 12 RBI. Vogelbach’s career to this point would point toward that being a small sample size blip and not something to expect going forward, but there is an indication he could still be a valuable piece going forward to the Brewers — if the game’s rules are such that he could stick around.
As has been noted here multiple times since he came to Milwaukee, Vogelbach has long had the reputation of having a ton of raw power. He hit more than 20 home runs twice at the Triple-A level while in the Seattle system and put up a 30-home run season for the Mariners in 2019 — although the bulk of that came in the first half of the season before he got ice cold at the end of that season.
His tenure with the Mariners came to an end after a massive 5-for-53 slump to start the 2020 season. He played two games with Toronto before being cut loose again when the Blue Jays needed to make room on their roster for some of their new acquisitions, and then Big Dan’s destiny to become a Brewer was finally fulfilled. With the Brewers, Vogelbach actually showed signs of being more of a complete hitter than his reputation would indicate, going the other way for singles against the shift fairly regularly. That helped him build the confidence to become more of the masher many thought he would be later in the season.
Offensively, he ended up being one of the more valuable Brewers this year. That’s both an indication of how well he hit once he got to Milwaukee and an indictment on the others on the roster considering Big Dan played in fewer than 20 games. Regardless, he’d normally be a lock to stick around.
Of course, there’s a complicating factor in the Vogelbach decision — Major League Baseball still hasn’t said whether NL teams will play with a DH in 2021. Considering we’re in the middle of the offseason and teams are trying to build their rosters, you would think the commissioner’s office would let half of the league know under which rules they’ll be playing next season.
But that would make too much sense, wouldn’t it? The general feeling is that both the owners and the players want the DH in the NL going forward, but the owners’ mentality on these things has always been “never give something up for free, even if you want it, too” — they may decide to hold off on implementing the DH in the NL full-time until the players’ union gives up something they want. Which, of course, is why everyone hates baseball labor negotiations.
In the meantime, Vogelbach is at the very least a cheap first base option for the Brewers. Playing him there for a full season may not be ideal (although he did fine and showed more athleticism than you would expect during his small sample size there in 2020), but considering how the position has frequently been a black hole for nearly a decade post-Prince Fielder, they may be willing to sacrifice some of that defense for some left-handed pop.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference
Should the Brewers tender or non-tender Daniel Vogelbach?
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