Milwaukee Brewers: Should they stay or should they go?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 12: Eric Thames #7 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates an RBI double against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning at Miller Park on July 12, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 12: Eric Thames #7 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates an RBI double against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning at Miller Park on July 12, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

There are five players with contract options this offseason and the Milwaukee Brewers will have to decide if they should stay or if they should let them go.

After a roller-coaster season for the Milwaukee Brewers that ended in a playoff berth as well as a disappointing loss in the NL Wildcard game, they have an important offseason ahead of them as they’ll look to make another World Series push in 2020.

In addition to exploring free agency, as well as dealing with their own pending free agents and arbitration-eligible players, GM David Stearns and the Brewers have five players with contract options for the 2020 season. Some of these decisions will be easier to make than others, but Stearns and his staff will still have to decide who should stay and who should go.

Yasmani Grandal

$16 million mutual option w/ $2.5 million buyout

At $18.25 million for the 2019 season, Yasmani Grandal was by far the biggest free-agent signing by the Milwaukee Brewers this past offseason and he was worth every penny. Over 153 games, Grandal would post a .246 batting average with an .848 OPS. He’d also hit a career-high 28 home runs, walk 109 times (second-most in the NL), and his WAR of 5.7 was second amongst NL catchers.

And although there were concerns by some about Grandal’s defense, his 19.4 runs saved by pitch framing was the second-best in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus.

The Verdict: Grandal will decline the option

Unfortunately for the Milwaukee Brewers, Grandal is still looking to land that multi-year deal and will likely decline the option to enter free agency. However, once he does become a free agent, the Brewers should do what they can to bring him back.

Mike Moustakas

$11 million mutual option w/ $3 million buyout

Like Grandal, Mike Moustakas was a free agent signing that played an integral part in the success of the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2019 season. Especially with the demise of Travis Shaw, the Moustakas signing ended up being incredibly important. This season, Moose would end up slashing .254/.329/.516 with 35 home runs, 87 RBIs and had an OPS+ of 114.

The Verdict: Moustakas will decline the option

While the Brewers love what Moose brings to this ball club both on the field and in the locker room, after a very good season in Milwaukee offensively along with the defensive versatility that he has shown over the last year and a half, Moustakas is likely to enter free agency once again in search of that elusive multi-year deal.

Just as the Brewers should look into re-signing Grandal, they should do the same with Moose, however, given their needs elsewhere, I do not see them landing both.

Chase Anderson

$8.5 million team option w/ $500k buyout

After a down 2018 season that left Chase Anderson off of the Milwaukee Brewers’ playoff roster, he began the 2019 season in the bullpen. However, with the starting rotation struggling early on, the Brewers turned to Anderson and he would fill in admirably this season.

In 139 innings including 27 starts, Anderson recorded a 4.21 ERA with a FIP of 4.83 and a 1.27 WHIP. And even though it wasn’t as much of a problem this season as it was in 2018, the home run ball was still an issue for Anderson and likely will be for the remainder of his career, especially at Miller Park.

The Verdict: Decline Anderson’s option

The 32-year-old Anderson has been very up and down the last few years and $8.5 million is just too much for a pitcher that likely won’t be in the starting rotation come Opening Day in 2020. The $8 million that the Brewers would save by declining his option will be better spent elsewhere and they can likely find similar production at a cheaper price.

Manny Pina

$1.85 million team option w/ $150k buyout

This should be a relatively easy decision for the Milwaukee Brewers. With the addition of Grandal, Manny Pina saw his role reduced significantly but after a slow start at the plate, he was able to salvage his season. After a strong July and August, Pina would finish with a .228 average and a .724 OPS along with some timely hits off of the bench. And of course, we all know how good of a defender Pina is behind the plate.

The Verdict: Pick up Pina’s option

Whether Grandal is back and Pina is once again the backup, or if the Brewers decide to have Pina play a larger role in 2020, they need to pick his option up.

Eric Thames

$7.5 million team option w/ $1 million buyout

While the decision on Manny Pina was a fairly easy one, what to do with Eric Thames is a bit trickier. After an injury and the emergence of Jesus Aguilar in 2018 relegated Thames to the bench, he would bounce-back in 2019. As Aguilar struggled and was eventually traded, Thames saw his playing time increase and delivered a couple of clutch moments at the plate as well.

In total, Thames finished with a .247 batting average, an OPS of .851, along with 25 home runs, 61 RBIs and a WRC+ of 116. However, a big reason for Thames’ resurgence was due to how Craig Counsell utilized him as he rarely had to go against left-handed pitching. Over his career, Thames is batting just .200 with a .679 OPS against lefties.

The Verdict: Decline Thames’ option and try to re-sign at a lower price

Like I said above, this is a difficult decision but I think that the Milwaukee Brewers should decline his option and try to re-sign him in free agency at a cheaper price. To me, $7.5 million is just too much for a platoon first baseman. And if the Brewers do pick his option up, they’ll either have to utilize free agency or rely on Tyler Austin to be the right-handed bat in that platoon. Regardless, it is more money and a roster spot being spent at first base.

Free Agent Target: SP Zack Wheeler. dark. Next

While Eric Thames is a fan favorite, his contract option is just a bit too rich for me and much like Chase Anderson, Milwaukee could look for similar production elsewhere while using those savings on Grandal, Moustakas, or starting pitching.

All stats and contract info via Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Spotrac