Milwaukee Brewers Set Table for Arbitration


Noon today is the deadline between Major League teams and players to exchange one-year proposals if they could not settle an agreement. In other words, it’s the proper start of arbitration season.
The Milwaukee Brewers, like many other teams, have their work cut out for them. The Brewers have to exchange deals with closer John Axford, newly-landed reliever Burke Badenhop and pitcher extrodinaire Marco Estrada. Outfielder Carlos Gomez already signed a last-minute deal to avoid the arbitration process, but those who remain can take considerable shares of the Brewers’ remaining payroll.

The most potentially expensive case on the Milwaukee Brewers docket is John Axford. The once and future closer of the Brew Crew had a rough go for most of 2012, but turned it around to record a respectable 36 saves on the season. For relievers going into the process, you can consider saves to be the gold-standard. And Axford’s save total gave him one of the highest totals of the National League, so he certainly has a few bargaining chips on his side of the table.
Most estimates put Axford’s asing price over $5 million dollars. This columnist said the Brewers would more than likely put together a longer term deal. What an idiot. The truth is that the two sides appeared close for a while on a multi-year plan, but they just could not meet in the middle. That means the Milwaukee closer can now cash in on a bigger single-season payday than he probably could have gotten in a long term deal.
Were he to win his arbitration case, rare though it is, it would take a sizeable portion of the team’s remaining cash, reported at around $10 million for the season. It’s no question that’s it a lot of money for someone with so much uncertainty from a fan’s perspective. On the flip side, the if the front office though that a closer with John Axford’s resume wasn’t worth the money, they could have got rid of him. But they didn’t. So there.
In other arbitration cases, the Brewers have to deal with a newer case – that of Burke Badenhop’s arbitration filing. The Crew picked up Badenhop from the Tampa Bay Rays over the off-season in order to bolster the team’s bullpen – and based on his impressive K/BB and BB/9 rates, he should certainly be able to do just that. It would have been nice to see the team work out a longer term deal with Badenhop, but I understand the need for the team to practice some caution in this situation.
Badenhop has a resume to be able to work his case, but it’s almost certainly going to land in Milwaukee’s favor.
Finally, the hardest case to figure out belongs to Marco Estrada. That’s mostly

Marco Estrada makes a strong case. Will he get paid?(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

because it’s hard to tell where on the Brewers’ pitching staff Marco Estrada is going to end up. Working out of the bullpen for most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, he spent a majority of 2012 as a member of the starting pitching staff. He threw a large number of quality starts in 2012 and made a legitimate case for a future as a starter – and a possibly great one at that. It doesn’t look like he’s asking for a lot of money, and he definitely has one of the strongest cases on the Milwaukee Brewers when you look at his body of work, so if any Brewer is going to win an arbitration case, it’s going to be Marco Estrada.
But what do I know?
If anything happens before noon, we’ll be sure to drop a line about it on here or on Twitter. If not, be prepared for Milwaukee to spend some money.