Milwaukee Brewers Should be Busy at Winter Meetings

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 24: Baseball hats with the current logo (L) and retro logo sit on display at Miller Park on April 24, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 24: Baseball hats with the current logo (L) and retro logo sit on display at Miller Park on April 24, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

The MLB Winter Meetings begin on Sunday, December 8th and it should end up being a busy few days for the Milwaukee Brewers.

As far as free agent signings go, this offseason has been moving quicker than the previous few, and that trend is likely to continue with the MLB’s Winter Meetings starting on Sunday, December 8th. For those not as familiar, the Winter Meetings are an annual event where GMs, Owners, Scouts, and others from the 30 major league teams get together in one location to discuss the league as well as work on potential deals.

This event provides a great opportunity for GMs to speak with agents in regards to their free agents and it also allows them to discuss trades face-to-face with other executives. Given that the Milwaukee Brewers have a number of holes on the roster to fill at this point, you can bet that it is going to be a very busy week for David Stearns.

Despite two straight postseason appearances – which has only happened one other time in Brewers’ history – and Stearns continuing to confirm that they plan to compete in 2020, Milwaukee currently finds themselves conducting a mini-rebuild on the fly. And so far, a majority of their moves have been letting players walk in order to gain payroll flexibility.

Saving Money this offseason

With the most recent signing of Jordan Lyles by the Texas Rangers, we have now seen four Milwaukee Brewers from this past season go elsewhere. Lyles would sign for two years at $16 million, Mike Moustakas is off to Cincinnati on a four year – $64 million deal. Meanwhile Yasmani Grandal is now with the Chicago White Sox for four years – $73 million, and lastly Drew Pomeranz became a Padre by signing a four year, $34 million contract.

Stearns has stated that he knew these would be coveted free agents after their 2019 seasons, but in regards to Moustakas, Grandal, and Pomeranz, it was more so the length of the deal than the amount of money spent that kept the Brewers away. But regardless, that’s a lot of money not on the books for the 2020 season.

Then just this past Monday, in an effort to continue saving money, the Brewers would non-tender some key players from previous seasons:

Travis Shaw ($4.7 million projected salary)

Jimmy Nelson ($3.7 million projected salary)

Junior Guerra ($3.5 million projected salary)

Alex Claudio ($2.2 million projected salary)

Tyler Saladino ($1 million projected salary)

Stearns would also trade away Chase Anderson and Zach Davies who were each supposed to earn $8.5 million and $5 million, respectively with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2020. They would also decline Eric Thames’ team option for $7.5 million, in turn making him a free agent.

Team needs

As it currently stands, the Brewers 2020 payroll sits at just $63,475,000 according to Spotrac, and for reference, their Opening Day payroll last season was around the $125 million mark. So the good news is that they have some money to spend, however, they also have a number of holes on this roster to fill.

Milwaukee has just recently address catcher by trading for Omar Narvaez who will platoon with Manny Pina next season and is only costing the club $2.9 million in 2020. But with the departure of Thames, first base still needs to be addressed and so does third base now that Shaw and Moustakas are no longer with the team. And lastly, the starting rotation needs another arm or two, as Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, and possibly Brent Suter are the only pitchers I would lock in at this point for the upcoming season.

Below are some of the top available free agents at the three biggest positional needs with their age and WAR in parentheses from

First Base

Eric Thames (33, 1.9)
Mitch Moreland (34, 0.7)
Neil Walker (34, 0.4)
C.J. Cron (30, 0.3)
Justin Smoak (33, 0.2)
Logan Forsythe (33, 0.2)

Third Base

Anthony Rendon (30 years old, 7.0 WAR)
Josh Donaldson (34, 4.9)
Asdrúbal Cabrera (34, 1.9)
Todd Frazier (34, 1.9)

Starting Pitching

Gerrit Cole (29 years old, 7.4 WAR)
Stephen Strasburg (31, 5.7)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (33, 4.8)
Madison Bumgarner (30, 3.2)
Homer Bailey (34, 2.9)
Tanner Roark (33, 2.0)
Wade Miley (33, 2.0)
Brett Anderson (32, 2.0)

Keep your eyes out for a trade

While most are watching the big name free agents, the Milwaukee Brewers could continue filling out their roster via trades just as they’ve already done on two occasions. A little over a week ago they sent Zach Davies and Trent Grisham to San Diego for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer. Then just this week, they acquired the aforementioned Omar Narvaez from Seattle for prospect Adam Hill.

Although their minor league system isn’t nearly as deep as it once was, a few prospects to keep your eyes on include Bryce Turang and Corey Ray as potential trade pieces. For a complete list of the Milwaukee Brewers top-30 prospects in the organization who could end up being potential trade candidates, click here.

Meanwhile at the big league level, with the newly acquired Urias, Orlando Arcia is a name that could come up in trade conversations and we’ve also heard some noise around Keston Hiura and Josh Hader. However, when it comes to Hiura and Hader, it would take an incredibly impressive trade package to get the job done and as all know, Stearns will listen to just about any offer, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to go through with it.

The Rule 5 Draft

On the final day of the Winter Meetings, the Rule 5 Draft takes place. Here is a quick synopsis of the rules and how that process works:

"“The Rule 5 Draft allows clubs without a full 40-man roster to select certain non-40-man roster players from other clubs. Clubs draft in reverse order of the standings from the previous season. Players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have played professionally for at least five years are eligible to be selected, as are those who signed at 19 or older and have at least four years of professional experience.Not every club will make a selection, but those that do pick a player must pay $100,000 to the club from which said player was selected. Rule 5 Draft picks are assigned directly to the drafting club’s 25-man roster and must be placed on outright waivers in order to be removed from the 25-man roster in the subsequent season.”"

In this year’s Rule 5 Draft, Milwaukee Brewers 3rd ranked prospect Zack Brown (who was the minor league pitcher on the year in 2018 with Double-A Biloxi), 14th ranked Lucas Erceg, and 18th ranked Braden Webb are the notable names that could be selected by another ball club.

Next. Best Non-Tendered Free Agent Fits. dark

Between the number of players that the Milwaukee Brewers have moved on from, along with the key roles that they now need to fill via trade or free agency, as well as with the Rule 5 Draft, it’s easy to understand why this is going to be a hectic week for David Stearns. However with the moves they’ve made so far they’ve saved a lot of money, but now it is time to spend so this team can take advantage of the competitive window that they are currently in.