The Milwaukee Brewers will need to add to their payroll if they want to contend for more than a Wild Card spot or a division title. How much money will they have to work with once free agency starts in November?
The Milwaukee Brewers ended the 2019 season with just over $145 million in total payroll, and that was enough to earn the second Wild Card. If GM David Stearns wants to take the team to the next level in 2020, he’s going to need to add to the roster.
The team is lacking in top level Minor League talent for trades, so they’re going to have to spend. But how much money does Stearns really have to play with?
How much is committed for 2020 right now?
Not including arbitration, players under team control, or options, the Milwaukee Brewers only have about $46 million to players on contracts committed right now. Their entire starting outfield account for all of their current commitments, and Ryan Braun‘s deal will end after 2020.
How about the players with options?
Manny Pina‘s club option worth $1.85 million should get picked up.
Only Eric Thames‘ club option worth $7.5 million for 2020 is a question mark. Let’s assume that the team picks up his option. Pina and Thames returning would boost the committed spend to $55 million.
How about arbitration eligible players?
After Hernan Perez elected free agency, the Milwaukee Brewers have 15 players eligible for salary arbitration heading into the off season.
Based on the latest projections, Josh Hader is expected to get a salary bump to $4.6 million. Brent Suter has a projection of $900,000. Ben Gamel should return at $1.6 million. Orlando Arcia will get $2.7 million. Junior Guerra goes up to $3.5 million. Zach Davies should make about $5 million. Alex Claudio and Corey Knebel should also return at $2.2 million and $5.125 million, respectively. These are all the players that are virtual locks to return in 2020. This adds about $26 million to the payroll, taking the team up to $81 million before spending a nickel in free agency.
Anderson won’t get his $8.5 million club option picked up, so he won’t be back for $10 million+ that he could earn in arbitration. Tyler Austin, Tyler Saladino, and Cory Spangenberg should also get their release.
The only question mark for the Milwaukee Brewers among arbitration eligible players in third baseman Travis Shaw. Shaw very well could end up DFA’ed instead of going through the arbitration process. $4.7 million isn’t ridiculous by Major League Baseball’s standard, so let’s say he returns for 2020. The payroll sits at about $86 million.
How about the players under team control for 2020?
Jacob Nottingham, David Freitas, Keston Hiura, Trent Grisham, Tyrone Taylor, Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, Jay Jackson, Freddy Peralta, Taylor Williams, Devin Williams, Corbin Burnes, Bobby Wahl, Ray Black, and Jake Faria are all under team control for 2020. All of them should be back with minimal financial commitment due to their limited service time.
That’s 12 players who should be on the 40-man roster for less than $8 million combined. The payroll now sits at $94 million, and the team has 28 of their 40 available roster spots filled. The team should also add a few Minor Leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V Draft in December. Corey Ray and Lucas Erceg are a pair of obvious names that spring to mind.
Any buried payroll figures that could impact the team?
Aramis Ramirez received a payment of $3 million in 2019. This was the last of the deferred money that he was promised. The Milwaukee Brewers won’t have to start paying deferred money again until 2022 when Braun will start to get his deferred payments.
Where does the payroll & roster sit
Assuming the Milwaukee Brewers take the payroll up to $150 million for 2020, Stearns will have about $50 million-to-$55 million to work with. Keep in mind, the team needs to add depth options, find a solutions at first base, catcher, and in the starting rotation.
Grandal and Moustakas could both come back for 2020 and beyond, and that could eat up anywhere from $35 million-to-$40 million of next year’s budget. Stearns would have about $20 million left to upgrade the pitching staff, and that includes the bullpen. Unless the Milwaukee Brewers are willing to push spending into the $155 million-to-$160 million range, Stearns may have to get really creative with his budget. That could mean cutting Thames or Shaw, or both, loose before the start of the 2020 season.