The Milwaukee Brewers face a difficult decision with Jonathan Schoop this winter, choosing whether or not to bring him back for the 2019 season.
When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Jonathan Schoop on July 31st, there was a lot of excitement. At the time, he was the AL Player of the Week and was coming off one of the hottest stretches of his career.
Then everything went downhill as soon as he put on a Brewers uniform.
After posting a .202/.246/.331 slash line with Milwaukee in the final two months, many were calling for him to be traded away, or released, anything to get him off the roster. While David Stearns’ original plan was for Schoop to be that stopgap in 2019 while prospect Keston Hiura continued to develop, it’s no longer looking likely.
With a terrible transition to Milwaukee and the state of the current second base market, there are several reasons to believe the Brewers will non-tender Jonathan Schoop by the deadline on November 30th.
Reason #1: It’s tough to trade him
By looking around the league, there appear to be only about 3-4 other teams in search of an upgrade at second base this offseason. The Angels, Twins, Yankees, and Nationals are the teams that appear most in need of an upgrade at second. And the Yankees could easily move Gleyber Torres to second base if they get a new shortstop option.
On the free agent market, DJ LeMahieu, Jed Lowrie, and Ian Kinsler all present viable options for these teams. Also on the trade market are Rougned Odor of the Rangers and Dee Gordon. Whit Merrifield of the Royals is out there for the right price and Jason Kipnis is another bounceback option for teams to target.
After the season Schoop just had, it’ll be hard to sell the few teams in the market for a second baseman that they should pay the prospect price to acquire Schoop and pay for his arbitration salary. David Stearns is a wizard when it comes to offseason trades, but this is a near impossible situation for him. There are cheaper options out there with players coming off better seasons.
Reason #2: Schoop doesn’t fit the profile Milwaukee wants
When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain last winter, they sent the message they didn’t want all-or-nothing hitters. They wanted hitters that could get on base at a high percentage.
Schoop doesn’t do that.
In his career, Schoop owns a .294 OBP, which is abysmal. Schoop also only draws walks at a 3.7% clip. Walking anywhere below a 5% rate is considered bad. His strikeout rate inexplicably jumped up to 30.6% with the Brewers last year.
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The Brewers are trying to move in the direction of a lineup full of hitters who can make contact and draw walks. Look at the lineup from last year. Cain, Yelich, Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, can all draw walks. All of the regulars had OBPs at least 60 points higher than their batting averages except Schoop, Orlando Arcia, and Manny Pina. And Arcia and Pina were in such deep slumps most of the year, pitchers had no reason to be afraid to pitch to them. They could throw down the middle with little fear of damage being done.
Schoop doesn’t draw walks, he never has. Plus, he struck out at a 30% clip in Milwaukee. Those are two things the Brewers are really trying to avoid having in their lineup.
Reason #3: He’s too expensive
Schoop is projected $10.1 million in arbitration. After the poor showing he had in Milwaukee, the Brewers would obviously argue for less than that. But since he earned $8.5 million in 2018, it’s nearly impossible to see him earning less than that next year.
If Schoop goes to arbitration, he’ll more likely land in the low-mid $9 million range. Either way, it’s still an expensive option for the small market, budget-constricted Milwaukee Brewers. Combine that high salary with the lack of production in the few months he’s been with the team, and there’s a good chance the team simply won’t pay that salary.
The only ways the Brewers can get out of paying that salary are to either trade him or non-tender him. Reason No. 1 highlights why it’ll be extremely difficult to trade him. That leaves non-tendering Schoop, and that has a strong possibility of happening at this point.
If Stearns is unable to trade Schoop by November 30th, there’s a good chance Schoop will get non-tendered. He simply doesn’t fit the offensive profile Milwaukee wants and there was very little positive momentum to build on for 2019.
It’s more cost-effective for the Brewers to go with a young option like Mauricio Dubon or a veteran free agent like Ian Kinsler.