Brewers News

Milwaukee Brewers Way Too Early 2021 Free Agent Outlook

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 04: General manager David Stearns of the Milwaukee Brewers lines out before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on May 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 04: General manager David Stearns of the Milwaukee Brewers lines out before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on May 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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While a 2020 season has yet to get underway, the Milwaukee Brewers will only get an abbreviated season out of players on the final year of their contracts.

Early June is typically when 1/3 of the Brewers season has been completed, when draft prospects await their fate during the MLB draft, and when teams can make accurate assessments as to what kind of a season a player is going to have.  Not this year.

While the weather is getting warmer and it is starting to feel more like summer, we have no idea how all the Brewers new additions would be performing and that is what makes this way too early 2021 free agent outlook even more interesting .

The Milwaukee Brewers went over a roster overhaul last offseason.  While no splashy signings were made they did acquire a slew of players who have contributed for many years, some who may be past their prime, and some who were due for bounce back seasons.

Most of the contracts David Stearns handed out ended up being smaller salary deals for the 2020 season with club options for 2021 and slightly increased salaries.  The idea, if you perform well in 2020 you will get a pay increase in 2021.  However, with currently no season, and potentially a shortened season, that is going to make evaluating these players tough and will force David Stearns to make decisions based off of smaller 2020 sample sizes, or perhaps no 2020 sample size.

Impending Free Agents

Here is the list of players who all have club options for the 2021 season with their 2021 salary afterwards: Justin Smoak ($5.5mil), Brock Holt ($5.0mil), Eric Sogard ($4.5mil), Jedd Gyorko ($4.5mil), David Phelps ($4.5mil).  Brett Anderson will be the only true free agent and was set to make $5.0mil in 2020.

The Brewers have one mutual option to consider next off-season and that is Ryan Braun who has a $15mil option.  It seems unlikely that the Brewers would pick up their end of that option.

Another notable contract is that 2021 is the last year of Christian Yelich‘s Miami Marlins contract.  Yelich is set to make $14mil in 2021 before jumping up to $26mil in 2022 and beyond.  With Braun’s contract likely coming off the books, the Brewers may have a financial window to sign a big free agent, even if it is only for one year.

However, back to the Brewers new additions.  If the Brewers returned all of them that would cost the team $29mil in 2021.  That being said, it seems likely that not everyone would return.

With likely no minor league season in 2020 the Brewers probably will not be able to promote internal prospects to the big league club at the start of 2021, which means David Stearns will have to turn to the free agent market to replace those who have departed.

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With a financial window it will be interesting to see if David Stearns elects to proceed with multiple small one year deals as he did during the previous off-season or if he elects to sign a big free agent or two similar to when the Brewers signed Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas prior to the 2019 season.

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