Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries created as an average from MLBTR):
Omar Narvaez: $4.1M - TENDER
Willi Adames: $4.0M - TENDER
Luis Urias: $2.4M - TENDER
Dan Vogelbach: $2.0M – NON TENDER
Rowdy Tellez: $1.9M - TENDER
Jace Peterson: $1.3M - TENDER
Brandon Woodruff: $7.1M - TENDER
Corbin Burnes: $4.0M - TENDER
Eric Lauer: $2.7M - TENDER
Adrian Houser: $2.3M - TENDER
Josh Hader: $10M - TENDER
Brent Suter: $2.3M - TENDER
Jandel Gustave: .8M – TENDER
I like the depth that Gustave and Peterson provide, so I’m comfortable keeping them around. I also felt like defensively Rowdy showed pretty well in his Milwaukee debut, even though he's likely a better DH - like Vogey. They’re just too similar of players to keep both, IMO.
No changes from what Brewers did.
Sign Brad Hand to a 1yr, $2.5MM contract. Hand has been one of the better LHRPs in baseball over the last four seasons, but he really struggled after being traded to Toronto at the deadline last year. I think there’s enough left in the tank to bring him on a 1-year deal and see if he can serve as a late-inning LHP to pair with Williams and Hader.
Sign Danny Duffy to a 1yr, $8MM contract. To replace Brett Anderson, I’ll go with another LHP with some injury issues. Maybe with Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small projected to pitch big league innings for the Brewers, Duffy doesn’t seem all that necessary. But I think added SP depth is important and allows the Brewers to trade one of Lauer/Houser for an impact bat.
Sign Archie Bradley to a 1yr, $4MM deal. This is less than what Bradley got from the Phillies this year, but I think this is still a reasonable salary for him. I wouldn’t get into a bidding war, but if he falls into the 3.5-4MM range, the Brewers should scoop him up. He could easily fill the Boxberger/Strickland role in the bullpen and has upside if the Brewers can help him cut down on his walks.
Sign Seiya Suzuki to a 5 year, $45MM deal. This might seem like a lot of money for a guy who has never played a game in MLB, but I think Suzuki has a chance to be a franchise type bat. I wrote a more in depth article about him earlier this fall here.
Suzuki’s plate discipline should allow him to have better success than recent Japanese imports like Tsutsugo and Akiyama. I think his power is real and that he can play a decent enough RF to be an everyday player. Rather than pay a guy like Tommy Pham or Jorge Soler 8-$10MM on a shorter pact, I think the Brewers should take a shot on adding a potential All Star on the cheap, even if it takes a 5-year commitment. The global impact of having a popular Japanese player on the team also should not be lost on the Brewers marketing group.
Trade RHP Adrain Houser to DET for 3B/1B Jemier Candelario and OF Daz Cameron. Candelario is blocking top prospect Spencer Torkleson at 1B and the Tigers still have Issac Paredes at 2B/3B plus Miguel Cabrera to play 1B/DH. With Javy Baez coming in, DET has an extra INF. This feels like a swap of surplus for surplus and a big ballpark with a defense led by Baez could allow Houser to thrive. Candelario is a switch hitter who can play either 3B/1B for Milwaukee, has three years of team control left and should be cheaper in arbitration than Matt Olson.
Daz Cameron is an upgrade from Corey Ray in terms of organizational depth in the OF. He runs well, can play a good CF and had a decent AAA season at the plate even though his numbers in MLB left a lot to be desired.
Trade LHP Ethan Small, IF Keston Hiura and OF Jackie Bradley Jr to MIN for SP Kenta Maeda. Maeda is injured and will likely miss the start of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. He’s owed a salary of $3MM for ’22 and ‘23 (adjusted since LAD is paying most of his contract) with significant incentives for games started and total innings, which he likely won’t hit next year unless he gets back before the AS Break. Basically, the way I look at this trade is we give up a sunk cost in JBJ, a blocked player in Small and a guy who needs to be fixed in Hiura for a relative low-cost gamble on a successful MLB pitcher on a very reasonable contract for 2023. The Brewers save nearly $10MM on their 2021 payroll, even though they would be committed to Maeda for another (hopefully healthy) season.
Hiura needs everyday ABs and that’s not going to come from a team trying to compete next season. MIN can give him reps at 2B/1B/DH and see if he can rediscover his form. It’s the classic change of scenery move.
The Twins get two players who are MLB-ready for their rebuild and a decent trade flip guy in Bradley if he can give them anything in 2022. They do take on some additional cash in Bradley, but that’s balanced out by the two younger pieces.
C – Narvaez
1B – Candelario/Tellez
2B – Wong
SS – Adames
3B – Urias
LF – Yelich
CF – Cain
RF – Suzuki
Bench: Severino, Peterson, Brosseau, Taylor
1 – Burnes
2 – Woodruff
3 – Peralta
4 – Lauer
5 – Duffy
RP: Hader, Williams, Hand, Bradley, Suter, Cousins, Ashby, Gott
Estimated Payroll: $125.5MM (includes buyouts/deferrals/posting fee for Suzuki)
Not a lot of sexy additions to the club, but with the arbitration awards starting to creep up for over half the roster these are the kind of moves they can realistically make.
Candelario has been worth an OPS+ of 125 since the start of 2020, so he will be an upgrade. Plus, his power should play up in the NL Central vs having half of his games in DET which absolutely kills fly ball hitters (Had JC played 162 games in Milwaukee last year, he would have hit 25 HRs instead of 16 per Baseball Savant). Suzuki will likely struggle for his first 150-200 PAs, but could really take off in the second half if he makes the necessary adjustments to MLB velocity. Jace and Brosseau can also plug in at RF in a pinch as well.
Pitching should still be strong, with the groundballer Houser moving on and Duffy/Ashby usurping his starts. There’s better K/9 potential with either of those guys and Duffy, if healthy, has shown he can pitch at an All-Star level. If Maeda comes back and can give the team some innings in July/August, that could end up being as impactful as a trade acquisition. He likely won’t be sharp enough right away to put up his best numbers, but can he pitch every 5th or 6th day to keep the rest of the rotation fresh? I think that’s a possibility.
The bullpen looks solid again with Hader/ Williams joined by Hand/Bradley. Lots of options for the 6/7 relievers in the system as well. Sanchez, Gustave, Mejia, File, Bettinger, etc.
This won’t be the best team in the NL on paper. But they would have a position player group with a very high floor and an elite pitching staff. They would still be hoping for a big rebound from Yelich and Cain to hold off Father Time one more year, but with Candelario joining Urias, Adames, Tellez and Wong – you have a solid group of guys who should post 10-20% better than average offensive numbers. Suzuki is a wild-card, but if he can produce anything like what Shohei Ohtani did as a rookie (.285/.361/.564), the Brewers could end up being a very dangerous offense in September and October. Even if he struggles in his MLB debut, there's coverage in the form of Taylor/Brosseau/Peterson and the farm is intact for deadline deals.