It’s that time of year again as the non-tender deadline is rapidly approaching and the Milwaukee Brewers will have to make some tough decisions.
This year, the MLB non-tender deadline is on Monday, December 2nd, as teams determine whether they want to “tender” a contract to their arbitration eligible players. Players that are not tendered a contract immediately become free agents and the team receives no compensation for when they sign elsewhere.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a lot of arbitration eligible players this year and it’s not going to make GM David Stearns job any easier.
When we wrote our offseason preview article shortly after the Crew’s postseason ended, we had 12 players listed as arbitration-eligible this year. This was prior to learning that Josh Hader was going to be eligible as a Super-Two player, which made for 13 arbitration players, more than half the active roster.
But, that list has shortened a little. Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg were outrighted and became free agents a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, just the other day, the Brewers traded Zach Davies to the Padres in a four-player swap. That puts the Crew at 10 arbitration-eligible players coming to the non-tender deadline.
However, not all of them are going to be tendered a contract as Stearns will continue to reshape the roster heading into 2020.
INF Tyler Saladino
It was a pretty big surprise last year when the Brewers tendered Saladino a contract, even though it was only for $800k. But Saladino did pretty much nothing in 2019. He got a call up during the middle of the season to try to provide some “competition” for incumbent shortstop Orlando Arcia, but was somehow a worse hitter than Arcia.
He had a couple grand slams, which was fun, but he did nothing else. He’s projected to earn $1 million next year and he does not have a spot on the 25 man roster. Expect a non-tender for Saladino.
RHP Junior Guerra
Guerra is entering his second year of arbitration and is projected to earn a solid $3.5 million in 2020. He put up a strong season as a full-time reliever, posting a 3.55 ERA in 72 appearances, becoming a very trusted member of that bullpen.
With a nice raise projected to come to him, there’s a chance he could be non-tendered. $3.5 million is an above-average salary for a middle reliever, even though he was trusted in late innings towards the end of the season. Perhaps the front office will look to find similar production for slightly less money.
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There have been unconfirmed reports that Guerra will be non-tendered already circulating. While it’s unclear at the moment if that will indeed be the case, we’ll have clarity on it by the end of the day on Monday.
3B Travis Shaw
After the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Travis Shaw being a non-tender candidate is a huge surprise. He was more likely to be an extension candidate than a non-tendered player over those first two years. But oh how things can change.
Shaw’s 2019 was abysmal. We don’t even need to go over the unsightly stats he put up. It was bad. He started the year in a slump, then pressed to get out of it, which pushed him into a deeper slump, until it was so deep he couldn’t get out of it. After the month of April, all of those struggles were on the mental side of things for Shaw.
He looked better in Triple-A and you could tell he was slowly starting to put things together in the month of September. He was drawing walks again and was making solid contact.
Shaw will not earn much of a raise, if any raise at all, on the $4.675 million salary he earned in 2019. He might even have to take a pay cut heading into 2020. The big question for the Brewers is if they want to allocate around $4 million for Shaw coming off such a rough season.
With Mike Moustakas a free agent still, and garnering a lot of interest from other teams, there’s a good chance Moose doesn’t return. And if Moose leaves and Shaw is let go, the Brewers have nothing at third base.
Those two years of above-average production were not a fluke, and Shaw is a good player. I think he should be brought back. Next year is going to be much better.
SS Orlando Arcia
Orlando Arcia has been put on the hot seat by GM David Stearns. After a second consecutive season of mediocre/awful production offensively, plus the regression of his glove in 2019, the Brewers have made it clear they need to upgrade. Whether it’s by Arcia improving or by adding someone else.
With the Padres trade on Wednesday netting the Crew a highly rated shortstop in Luis Urias, this makes the decision very interesting for the Brewers.
The Brewers have a starting caliber shortstop who has a good glove, although not as good as Arcia’s can be, and a very good bat, while still just 22 years old. He can also play other infield positions.
The question is, do the Brewers want to have a spring training competition between Arcia and Urias, with a likely timeshare at the position during the season, or are they willing to cut Arcia loose and simply go with Urias at shortstop moving forward?
Personally, I think it’s the former, and the Brewers will have a competition between Arcia and Urias for the shortstop job. They want to light a fire under Arcia, and Saladino clearly couldn’t do that, but Urias can. This could bring the best out of Arcia now that he’s got competition.
Arcia was the Brewers most hyped prospect since Ryan Braun arrived on the scene. I don’t think they want to completely give up on him just three years into his big league career and lose him for nothing in return.