Fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, have you heard? Elite relievers are all the rage! Andrew Miller is super awesome, and it is no longer uncouth to give big money to relief pitchers who may pitch less than 70 innings.
The Milwaukee Brewers should throw a pile of money at one of the elite relievers on the market, but not for the reasons you may think.
With the post season still fresh in General Managers’s minds, it’s safe to say that Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen will not come cheap, but hear me out. The Brewers are projected to have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, roughly 65 million according to Cot’s baseball contracts.
They could easily afford to offer something obscene to either of the consensus relief aces on the market. Let’s say for the sake of argument, that either pitcher will get a minimum 4 year deal.
Even an outrageous 4 year 60-80 million dollar deal would not break the Brewers payroll. A signing like that would most certainly get the fans excited and maybe give people a reason to frequent the Menomonee Valley come spring.
But the real value of signing Jansen or Chapman would be to hope that the reliever excels, and flip him at the deadline. The prospect hauls for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman at the 2016 deadline were immense.
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There is no guarantee the Brewers could get a similar haul of prospects. The contracts would be significantly longer and more expensive than they were at last years deadline. But I think the market for relief aces is at an all time high.
Essentially the Brewers should buy for a high dollar amount, and hope the market for relievers remains strong. Even if you get half of the prospect packages that happened last year it would be worth the cash and the risk of the contract.
Speaking of the risk, it is significant. Relievers are volatile. There is no guarantee either pitcher would pitch well in the first half of 2017 so they can be traded them at the deadline. There is also the question of health, as an injured elite reliever does you no good and can not be traded. However, these risks are assumed when you sign any free agent (I am looking at you Matt Garza).
So great plan right? Ya! Well there are other problems. Even if your contract offer is the highest, you can’t force the player to come to Milwaukee. The games two elite relievers on the market may want to, you know, do something like play on a contender for some reason. Also 4 years 60-80 million may not be the highest offer when you may be dealing with teams with near unlimited resources like the Cubs or Dodgers.
The chances of the Brewers competing this year are slim. I think the Brewers should look at 2017 as a year to continue to acquire and develop young talent. There are risks, but signing an elite reliever could help them in this process.