While we wait for news on the start of the 2020 season, a recent trend has been looking at which players a team would protect in a hypothetical expansion draft. We try to guess who the Milwaukee Brewers would protect.
Under the rules of the last expansion draft in 1997, existing teams were able to protect 15 players from their 40 man roster. Then after the first round, they could protect three more, and so on. So which 15 players would the Brewers protect?
Let’s go over the rules of eligible players to be selected from that last draft as well.
"All players in an organization were eligible to be drafted, except those with no prior major league experience who had less than three years service if signed at age 19 or older, or had less than four years of service if signed at 18 or younger.Players who were free agents after the end of the season need not be protected."
A player on a one year deal like Brett Anderson doesn’t need to be protected. Young prospects like Brice Turang also don’t need to be protected since he isn’t eligible and has less than four years of professional experience. A minor leaguer like Corey Ray, however, would be eligible to be drafted.
Obviously, there isn’t a planned, upcoming expansion draft in baseball. The league won’t consider it until they get the stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland settled first.
The Brewers get 15 players to protect. Who should they be?
The Safe Selections
Christian Yelich is first on this list. He’s got the long-term contract, he wants to be here, and has a full no-trade clause.
Following him would be Keston Hiura. We all know the man can hit, and so does every other person in baseball. Hiura is going to be in the heart of the Brewers order for years to come and they will not let a bat like him get away.
With the two core offensive pieces protected, let’s turn to the pitching staff. Brandon Woodruff, Josh Hader, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser, and Corbin Burnes are the future of this pitching staff. The Brewers have finally developed some young, stud pitchers and they aren’t going to let them go.
Ryan Braun is an interesting case. He has full 10-and-5 rights, which means he has to be protected unless he waives those rights. But he’s also a free agent at the end of the season, which means he doesn’t have to be protected. Without further clarity, we’re going to operate as if he will be protected.
That brings us to eight of our 15 selections.
Whittling It Down
With the Brewers having several players on one year deals with a club option for next year, it’s difficult to ascertain if they need protection or not. Let’s exclude them for the moment. That means guys like Brock Holt, Eric Sogard, Justin Smoak, and Jedd Gyorko won’t be discussed.
The Brewers have seven spots remaining and several players who could fill them. Lorenzo Cain, Avisail Garcia, Josh Lindblom, Manny Pina, Ben Gamel, Brent Suter, Corey Knebel, Alex Claudio, Omar Narvaez, Orlando Arcia, Ryon Healy, Eric Lauer, Luis Urias, Ray Black, Shelby Miller, Trey Supak, Mark Mathias, Ronny Rodriguez, Jake Faria, Corey Ray, Tyrone Taylor, Mario Feliciano, Angel Perdomo, Devin Williams, Eric Yardley, J.P. Feyereisen, and Bobby Wahl are all eligible to fill those spots. That’s 26 players for seven spots.
Let’s whittle that down a bit. Healy and Miller are nice depth, bounceback pieces, but are not crucial players. Mathias and Rodriguez are also nice depth pieces for the infield, but not worth a protected spot. Faria, Yardley, Feyereisen, Perdomo, Williams, and Wahl are all possible bullpen pieces, but not vital pieces. The Brewers can afford to leave them off, knowing they might lose one or two at most.
Corey Ray has yet to prove himself as a key piece of the future Brewers outfield and with his prospect value dropping in recent years, it makes sense to leave him off. The same goes for Taylor.
Trey Supak and Mario Feliciano are the best eligible prospects that the Brewers might consider protecting. Of those two, Feliciano makes the most sense because of the position he plays.
Claudio and Black are useful bullpen pieces but are a bit older and not very consistent with their performance.
So, now it’s been whittled down to Cain, Garcia, Lindblom, Pina, Gamel, Suter, Knebel, Narvaez, Arcia, Lauer, Urias, and Feliciano. We’re down to 12 players for seven spots.
Making The Decisions
Knebel and Lauer are both high ceiling pitchers that can be dominant at times. With Knebel coming back from TJS, and Lauer coming over in a trade to be a key rotation piece, both make sense to protect.
Five spots left, and 10 players able to fill them. Lorenzo Cain and Avisail Garcia are highly paid players and bring a lot of value to the organization. They need to be protected.
Three spots remaining, and eight players to choose from. Since a team can only lose one player per round, the Brewers could leave both Arcia and Urias off their protected list, let the draft fall where it may, and if one of them gets selected, protect the other ahead of the second round. That’s a bold strategy, and perhaps not the smart one with such an important position. The Brewers don’t want to give up on Arcia so easily and Urias has too much potential and versatility. Both should be protected.
That leaves one spot remaining for Lindblom, Gamel, Pina, Suter, Narvaez, and Feliciano. There’s three catchers among that group and no other catchers have been protected so far. Of those three, Narvaez should be the one protected. He’s the projected starter in 2020 and beyond, and if they lose him, the offense will suffer.
The Final List
After the process of whittling down and choosing who should be protected, we came up with this final list:
- Christian Yelich
- Keston Hiura
- Brandon Woodruff
- Josh Hader
- Freddy Peralta
- Adrian Houser
- Corbin Burnes
- Ryan Braun
- Corey Knebel
- Eric Lauer
- Lorenzo Cain
- Avisail Garcia
- Orlando Arcia
- Luis Urias
- Omar Narvaez
With the lack of clarity on Braun’s eligibility for this hypothetical expansion draft, if he did not need to be included, Lindblom or Suter would make for the next logical inclusion on this list. With this, the Brewers protect their entire outfield, their rotation, and key bullpen and infield pieces.
If there was an expansion draft, would you be satisfied with this list of protected players? Is there anyone else you would have protected instead?