Milwaukee Brewers 2020 Arbitration Projections: Few Raises In Store

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 27: Starting pitcher Zach Davies #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 27: Starting pitcher Zach Davies #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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With a large number of players in arbitration this year, the Milwaukee Brewers could be on the hook for some large raises, but they probably won’t be.

Now that the season is over, all the regular season stats are compiled and can be compared to everyone else around the league, we have seen arbitration projections start to come out, including for all the Milwaukee Brewers in arbitration this year.

Today, MLB Trade Rumors released their arbitration projections for the season, and we’ll have analysis of each of those projections for the Brewers players right here.

What Are The Brewers Arbitration Projections?

RHP Jimmy Nelson – $3.7MM

This is exactly what Jimmy Nelson earned in 2019, and in 2018. Nelson has not gotten a chance for a raise in arbitration since his first year. In 2017, he had a dominant season in his last year prior to arbitration, although he required shoulder surgery at the end of it. It gave him a raise to $3.7MM for 2018 when he ended up missing the entire year.

That led to him getting re-upped for the same salary of $3.7MM in 2019, and given how much time he missed still rehabbing, and then being ineffective, getting injured again, and remaining ineffective, Nelson continues to project at $3.7MM for his final year of arbitration in 2020.

UTIL Hernan Perez – $3.0MM

Hernan Perez played in 2019 under a $2.5MM salary and could see a slight bump in his final year of arbitration according to MLBTR’s projections. His defensive versatility is quite valuable, despite his bat taking a step backwards this year, including getting DFA’ed earlier in the season.

With Cory Spangenberg having a solid audition in the month of September, there’s a chance he could supplant Perez as a cheaper utility option. Speaking of which…

UTIL Cory Spangenberg – $1.5MM

Cory Spangenberg signed a $1.2MM split contract with the Milwaukee Brewers last winter. He spent most of the year in the minors, but performed well when up with the Crew. This could earn him a solid, yet unspectacular raise.

If it’s down to Perez and Spangenberg for that super utility position, Spangenberg is projected to earn half the salary of Perez. Especially if the Brewers want to re-sign Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas, saving money wherever they can is crucial.

RHP Corey Knebel – $5.125MM

This is what Corey Knebel was signed for heading into 2019, when he unfortunately had to undergo Tommy John surgery in the spring. He’s projected to earn the same amount for next year, which is no surprise.

LHP Alex Claudio – $2.2MM

This is a solid raise for Alex Claudio, who played in 2019 under a $1.275MM contract. MLBTR projects him to earn an extra million dollars next year after a solid 2019 season. His ERA wasn’t the best, but he was a trusted reliever who lead the league in appearances. That plays big for arbitration.

3B Travis Shaw – $4.7MM

Travis Shaw just completed his first year of arbitration, and after performing well enough to earn that big raise last offseason, he stunk it up in 2019. This projected salary is the same as what he earned in 2019 and based on the season he had, there’s little chance he sees any sort of raise.

The Brewers can cut their arbitration salary offer to Shaw by a maximum of 20% from the previous year’s salary, meaning the lowest they can offer him is $3.74MM. I can almost guarantee Shaw will get somewhere between $3.74MM and the $4.7MM he earned last year in his salary for 2020, if he even gets tendered a contract.

RHP Zach Davies – $5.0MM

Zach Davies is projected to get the biggest raise of the Milwaukee Brewers arbitration players this offseason, jumping from the $2.6MM he earned in 2019 to $5.0MM for 2020. He had a solid year, earning a 3.55 ERA in a healthy campaign that saw some ups and downs, but he was a reliable starter for the most part.

RHP Junior Guerra – $3.5MM

Junior Guerra is also set to see a nice raise from his 2019 salary. Guerra adjusted well to his full-time role in the bullpen and was a reliable option for Craig Counsell late in games. This isn’t an absurd amount of money for the value Guerra provides.

SS Tyler Saladino – $1.0MM

Tyler Saladino was a surprising tender last winter at $887k, but it would be even more surprising to see him tendered again this offseason. He performed poorly in his opportunities in the big leagues and has been surpassed on the depth chart by Spangenberg.

SS Orlando Arcia – $2.7MM

Orlando Arcia is one of four Milwaukee Brewers entering their first year of arbitration, and he’s projected to see the largest raise. By courtesy of playing a premium defensive position, and being one of the best defenders at said position, he gets to earn the bigger bucks. However, his bat is the question mark.

$2.7MM isn’t an exorbitant amount of money for a shortstop, even for Arcia with his lack of offensive prowess. He’s not in danger of being non-tendered at this price, but at his production level, he is in danger of being replaced by a free agent.

OF Ben Gamel – $1.6MM

Ben Gamel had a solid first season with the Milwaukee Brewers, playing mostly as the fourth outfielder until he was supplanted in that role by Trent Grisham. Good depth in the outfield is never a bad thing, especially with the recent injury troubles with both Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun. This is a solid salary for Gamel in his first year in arbitration.

However, it could make him a trade candidate with Grisham on a league-minimum salary and other outfielders ready down in Triple-A.

LHP Brent Suter – $900k

This projection is a little surprising to me. Although Brent Suter did miss over a year with Tommy John surgery, he had proven himself to be a capable big league starter prior to the injury, and was a dominant reliever when he returned. His performance in September should earn him a slightly higher salary than this projection might suggest.

With this also being Suter’s first year of arbitration, his initial salary is going to be crucial for his future salary growth.

1B Tyler Austin – $1.2MM

Tyler Austin had a few big at-bats for the Milwaukee Brewers in September and could have played his way into a roster competition for 2020. With Eric Thames facing a contract option and possibly reaching free agency, Austin would be next in line at first base for the Crew.

It’ll be an interesting decision how the Brewers handle first base, and while Austin could easily be non-tendered, they could bring him back for this kind of salary. As a power hitting corner infielder, this is a paltry sum.

Overall Thoughts

Frankly, there’s not much for big time raises in this group. Zach Davies is projected to see the largest one, going from $2.6MM to $5.0MM next year. Arcia is jumping up to only $2.7MM from league minimum and the other raises are minimal.

The players that entered 2019 poised to make the largest jumps in salary arbitration had awful years. Travis Shaw, Jimmy Nelson, and Corey Knebel were the Crew’s three biggest arbitration salaries in 2019. One had a career-worst season, one was back and forth between being injured and ineffective, and the other was out for the whole season.

This is good news for the Brewers salary-wise, considering they should have more flexibility with their payroll heading into the offseason. However, it was bad news in the fact that the Crew didn’t get contributions from three very important players.

Next. Adrian Houser 2019 Season Report Card. dark

With arbitration raises basically at a minimum, GM David Stearns won’t be held back too much by this group as he looks to upgrade the roster heading into 2020.

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