The Milwaukee Brewers head into the offseason at an interesting point in their contention window and some big questions ahead.
Although the offseason is starting earlier than we would have liked, the Milwaukee Brewers have a lot to figure out this offseason. It’s not a question of whether or not they’ll continue to try to contend next year and through the next couple seasons, but it’s a matter of how they’re going to do it.
The 2019 season was a lot of fun, with a lot of great memories and exciting performances. But now comes the offseason with question marks and uncertainty. Here are three of the biggest questions facing the Crew this winter.
1. Do they re-sign Yasmani Grandal and/or Mike Moustakas?
This is the foremost question and concern on the minds of Brewers fans. Both Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas played such big roles this season and had career-best performances. Especially after Christian Yelich went down with an injury, it was these two that stepped up.
Grandal is going to be tough to re-sign. He earned himself a lot of money this offseason, after signing a one-year, $18.25MM deal in January with the Brewers. He turned down four years, $55+ million from the Mets last winter and is in line to earn more than that this year.
With a career high in walks, more power, a great offensive and defensive season, Grandal is once again the best catcher on the market, and entering his age-31 season, is one of the youngest at the position. He’s going to get paid. The only question is if the Brewers are willing or even able to pay him what is necessary to bring him back.
Moustakas will be easier to retain. Having struggled to find a multi-year deal the past two offseasons, Moose will once again search for a long-term deal coming off another tremendous season where he showed defensive value at two different positions. He loves Milwaukee and performs well here, but would they go for a multi-year deal with him?
Finding a power-hitting third baseman is easier to find than a power-hitting, on-base machine at catcher. Grandal should be the higher priority, especially when the Milwaukee Brewers already have a proven power hitter at third base in Travis Shaw, which brings us to the next big question.
2. What do they do with Travis Shaw?
2019 was the season from hell for Travis Shaw. From the start, and mostly to the finish it was bad. Shaw finished with the worst numbers of his career, hitting just .157 with seven home runs and a 45 OPS+. He started in a slump, started to press, and it spiraled out of control and got into his head after that. It was a mental grind more than anything most of the season.
In his two previous season, Shaw proved himself a capable third baseman and power hitter. He knocked 30+ home runs each of his first two seasons and was a huge contributor on offense. That’s not a fluke. He’s a good hitter that just had a terrible year.
Shaw will now enter his second year of arbitration after playing in 2019 with a $4.675MM salary. In all likelihood, he will either stay at that number, or drop slightly. There’s very little chance he earns a raise after this performance.
But his future is in doubt. He took a huge step back, and now with Moustakas leaving, can the Milwaukee Brewers depend on a bounceback season in 2020 and let Moose go? They don’t have much for capable replacements in the minors with Lucas Erceg also not hitting well this year.
It’ll be a hard sell for David Stearns to put all his eggs in the Travis Shaw bounceback basket, which means he’ll likely get an insurance policy at the position, signing someone who can take over the position if Shaw fails again. But is that Moose? Or someone else?
3. What starting pitching do they get, if any?
The Milwaukee Brewers entered 2019 with rookies filling 3/5 of the rotation spots. Only one thrived, Brandon Woodruff. The others, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, faltered. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the talent necessary to succeed in the rotation. They’ll both be trying out for rotation spots again in the spring and have the stuff to become frontline-type pitchers.
Also, Jimmy Nelson will be coming back with a fully healthy offseason and shouldn’t be delayed in throwing like he was this year. With Nelson, Burnes, Peralta, and Woodruff all back, that’s a lot of talent that *could* be dominant, front-line guys. However, three of them are major question marks if they’ll make that jump next year.
The Milwaukee Brewers rotation is in a very interesting stage right now. They have talent, but a lot of it didn’t show up in 2019. If they roll with them again and it doesn’t work, they’re left vulnerable, having not acted for two years. If they make additions, that homegrown talent could get buried and never come out. Teams don’t want to give up on talent like that, especially homegrown starting pitchers.
It’ll be a tightrope walk for Stearns this offseason with the starting rotation, and we can’t look away.
The Milwaukee Brewers could be in for a wild offseason, and with some money to spend, this roster could see some major changes.