Is Mark Attanasio playing it smart or safe with the Milwaukee Brewers payroll? (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Milwaukee Brewers Payroll Tops Off at $85 Million


It’s been about four seasons since the Milwaukee Brewers could claim a payroll of under 85 million dollars.

In fact, you can’t point to a time when the payroll went down from one year to the next  since principal owner Mark Attanasio took control of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005.

Obviously, some of this comes with sloughing off the fat from a disappointing year from a pitching perspective, but the Milwaukee Brewers front office hope to reap other benefits from tightening the purse strings.

But are they being penny wise and dollar foolish?

The Brewers want a big bang for their buck from players like Wily Pralta(Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

There’s no question that despite the slimmer budget, the Milwaukee Brewers of 2013 still have plenty of muscle to work with. Obviously the core group of offensive players – Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Rickie Weeks, and the injured Corey Hart – are still around along with Yovani Gallardo on the mound.

There is the added benefit of having younger players that are not yet arbitration eligible. This means the Brewers can keep young guns like Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta under team control (and under budget) for a few more seasons. Since the team is looking to develop young talent as a means to stay competitive and flexible in a harder-driving market, this kills two birds with one stone.

The Brewers can help move along the younger players, and make them more attractive if the team needs to make a bigger deal in the future.

One of the issues I take with the smaller payroll – if I must take one – isn’t the fact that the payroll dropped, but that the payroll dropped by 20% in one season. Again, dropping off players like Randy Wolf, Kameron Loe, and Shaun Marcum had a lot to do with it. But at the same time, we had arbitration players like John Axford, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez that went without multi-year deals.

I know, multi-year contracts would not effect 2013′s payroll necessarily. The

problem is the fact that those salaries aren’t going down in the near future. Here the Brewers once again had a chance to keep a group of players who could help the team in the long run under team control while still helping to keep costs down somewhat.

Instead, what happened was that fear of the future – of players breaking down, of free agent prices rising too high, and of having a $100 million payroll for a few more years – may have actually the hurt team in a competitive standpoint in the future.

Nobody can predict the future – I’m not here to tell you that a slimmer payroll is definitely going to make the team less successful. What I am saying is that the trimming of the payroll appears to be another safe move in an off-season full of them.

And nobody ever won a championship by playing it safe.

Tags: Milwaukee Brewers