As the 2020 season draws closer (still not close enough), it’s time to check in on which Milwaukee Brewers players have minor league options remaining.
Most Brewers fans have figured out by now that GM David Stearns values flexibility within his 26-man and 40-man rosters, and players with minor league options remaining are far more valuable to him than players without options.
Look no further than the Domingo Santana trade last winter. Santana was out of options and he was traded for Ben Gamel (and Noah Zavolas), a similar outfielder who had a minor league option remaining.
Lots of things have changed with this roster from last year to this year. A lot of old faces are now gone and new faces have taken their place. Some have options remaining, some don’t. Here’s a breakdown of who on the 40-man roster has minor league options left and who doesn’t.
*Option reports courtesy of Roster Resource, and numbers are subject to change during the season if an option gets used up. These numbers are as of February 8th, 2020.*
3 Options Remaining (9)
Omar Narvaez, Ryon Healy, Eric Lauer, J.P. Feyereisen, Mark Mathias, Corey Ray, Devin Williams, Angel Perdomo, Eric Yardley
The majority of these players will be entering their first spring training in the Brewers organization. Omar Narvaez was just acquired in a December trade with Seattle and will see the bulk of the playing time at catcher this year. Ryon Healy is solid depth at the corner infield positions and will likely see time in Triple-A in 2020.
Eric Lauer is competing for a rotation job this spring and will have to fend off homegrown starters like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta. J.P. Feyereisen was acquired from the Yankees last September and is a Wisconsin kid that will battle for a bullpen job this spring, but will likely find himself on the shuttle between Milwaukee and San Antonio a lot this year.
Mark Mathias was claimed off waivers from Cleveland earlier in the offseason and is a utility infield option for the Crew, but will face an uphill battle to make the 26-man roster and will likely spend most of his time in San Antonio. Corey Ray is a former first-round pick that was placed on the 40-man to protect him from the Rule-5 Draft this winter. With a bevy of outfield options ahead of him on the depth chart and coming off an injury-plagued season himself, Ray is likely to be in Triple-A most of the year, unless there’s an injury.
Devin Williams, Angel Perdomo, and Eric Yardley are all relievers that will find themselves on that Milwaukee-San Antonio shuttle a lot this season. Of the three, Williams is projected to spend the most amount of time in Milwaukee.
2 Options Remaining (10)
Keston Hiura, Josh Hader, Brent Suter, Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, Luis Urias, Ronny Rodriguez, Tyrone Taylor, Trey Supak, Bobby Wahl
Brent Suter dominated in a one-month stint at the end of 2019 and will likely return to the bullpen in a multi-inning role in 2020. He’s been a starter before but it doesn’t sound like he’s an option for the rotation moving forward. Suter figures to be one of the few permanent members of the Milwaukee bullpen.
Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes have the talent to never go back down to the minor leagues again. Whether or not that happens depends on if they’re able to have bounceback seasons in 2020. Both were disappointments last year, but with strong spring performances they could push for a rotation spot and they have the stuff to hold on to it. In an ideal world, the Brewers would not have to use the minor league options for Peralta or Burnes this year.
Luis Urias is likely to start the season either optioned down to the minor leagues or starting on the injured list and then going on a rehab assignment in the minors after hand surgery last month. Urias is likely to spend most of the season in the major leagues.
Ronny Rodriguez and Tyrone Taylor both face uphill battles to make the 26-man roster out of camp and find themselves further down on the depth chart. They’re likely to be optioned down to Triple-A to start the year.
Trey Supak will start the year in the minor leagues but could join the big league squad at some point this season. He struggled after a promotion to Triple-A last year and will need to re-establish himself in order to get a promotion. Bobby Wahl figures to be a bullpen option for the Brewers as well this year after missing all of 2019 with a torn ACL he suffered in spring training last year. Wahl also is likely to find himself on the express shuttle between Milwaukee and San Antonio this year.
1 Option Remaining (7)
Orlando Arcia, Ben Gamel, Brandon Woodruff, Alex Claudio, David Freitas, Jacob Nottingham, Taylor Williams
Orlando Arcia will, eventually, have a battle with Luis Urias for the starting shortstop position. That battle has been delayed by Urias’ injury and Arcia is going to begin the season as the starter. He’s been underperforming offensively for a few years now and if he doesn’t get the bat going soon, Arcia could find himself down in San Antonio, using up that final option at some point this year.
Ben Gamel will see his playing time cut down a little bit by the addition of Avisail Garcia to the outfield mix, but if Ryan Braun is spending most of his time at first base, Gamel could still see some time. The permanent addition of the 26th man this year will also help give Gamel a better shot of making and staying on the roster.
Brandon Woodruff has an option remaining, but it’s hard to see him returning to the minor leagues again unless it’s for a rehab assignment.
Alex Claudio spent all of last season in the big leagues but was non-tendered this offseason and then signed back in free agency. With the addition of the three-batter minimum rule this year, Claudio could be limited in his effectiveness.
David Freitas and Jacob Nottingham are going to battle it out for the 3rd string catcher, and Freitas currently seems to have a lead. The 26th roster spot this year could lead the Brewers to carry a third catcher if they wanted to. At least one will be optioned down to Triple-A to start the year, possibly both of them.
Taylor Williams has been a member of the Brewers bullpen carousel for the past few years and probably has enough frequent flyer miles between Milwaukee and San Antonio to charter his own plane. The Brewers were granted a fourth option year for him and will use that option quite frequently this year.
Out Of Options (5)
Manny Pina, Adrian Houser, Josh Lindblom, Ray Black, Corey Knebel
Any player with more than five years of major league service time is ineligible to be optioned down to the minor leagues without their permission. So veterans like Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich, Eric Sogard, etc. are irrelevant in this counting.
Adrian Houser picked a good time to prove himself a viable big league starting pitcher last year in his final option year. Now out of options, Houser has solidified himself as a key member of this big league pitching staff and could be a key starter in the 2020 season.
Josh Lindblom was signed to a three-year deal back in December, returning from a stint in Korea. He’ll be an important member of the starting rotation this year as well.
Ray Black was acquired in the Drew Pomeranz trade last July and should be a key piece of this Brewers bullpen. Of the bullpen group, the only projected members to make the Opening Day roster who cannot be optioned down to the minors are Black and the veteran David Phelps. Black throws hard but hasn’t achieved much big league success to this point and 2020 is a very important season for his career.
Corey Knebel is returning from Tommy John surgery this year, and when healthy is one of the best relievers in the game. He can take back the closer’s job at some point this year and the bullpen is going to need him to return to his old self.
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The Brewers love flexibility with their roster, and there are 26 players on their 40-man roster that have minor league options remaining, giving them a wide variety of options.