The Brewers need to make some changes with their roster for 2021.
Despite a shortened season with numerous oddities that made 2020 anything but normal for Brewers players, some players aren’t going to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a roster spot for 2021.
So which players seem doomed not to return to the Brewers? Here are three.
1. 1B/3B Ryon Healy
In a year where the Brewers got absolutely zero offensive production from their corner infielders outside of Jedd Gyorko, Ryon Healy still couldn’t crack the roster for more than seven at-bats in the regular season.
Despite the struggles from Smoak, Healy never earned playing time and then the Brewers brought in Daniel Vogelbach to play over him. Somehow, Healy was chosen to bat cleanup in Game 2 of the Wild Card series against the Dodgers, despite having not faced big league pitching since early August.
Last winter, the Brewers signed Healy to a one year, one million dollar contract. However, with his MLB service time, Healy is still under team control for three more seasons and will enter his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Would the Brewers really be willing to go to arbitration with a player who had seven total at-bats this season and couldn’t make the roster even when there was ample opportunity for him to earn a job?
I don’t think so.
2. INF/OF Jace Peterson
By some miracle, Jace Peterson spent a lot of time with the Brewers in 2020 and posted a nearly .400 OBP by virtue of drawing 15 walks in 61 plate appearances. That’s good for a 24.6% BB rate.
This may surprise some people, but a 24.6% walk rate is unsustainable.
Even in his previous “best” years of his career, Peterson has only drawn walks at a 12% clip. Over a whole 162 game season, Peterson will not be able to put up such a high OBP, especially when he doesn’t get base hits very often.
Peterson drew more walks in 2020 than he got hits. He only had nine hits and had 15 walks.
In 2021, the Brewers need far better than Jace Peterson. He’s not a strong hitter, his defense isn’t that great despite having positional versatility, and he’s also out of minor league options.
Peterson is 30 years old, he’s been around the big leagues for seven years know. We know who he is as a player. The 2020 season is not a sign that Peterson has figured it out because of an extremely high walk rate that should qualify as an outlier.
There’s no reason to tender Peterson a major league contract for 2021. The Brewers can find similar or better production from someone like Mark Mathias or some other waiver claim for a lot less.
3. 3B Eric Sogard
There’s a lot to like about Eric Sogard. He’s a leader, he’s a great clubhouse presence, he’s a solid defender, he can play multiple positions, and he came up in the clutch.
In 29 high leverage ABs, Sogard hit .379 with a .976 OPS including a walk off home run for his only homer of the season.
However, there are a couple things that could doom his return to the team in 2021. The first thing was his overall offensive production. While he got on base at a high clip early in the season, Sogard ended the year with a .281 OBP and a .560 OPS. Sogard’s 52 OPS+ was worse than Omar Narvaez‘s OPS+ (53) this year.
The second thing is the size of his contract option for next year. The Brewers have a club option worth $4.5MM in 2021 with a $500k buyout. Essentially, it’s a $4MM decision for GM David Stearns.
Coming off a season with no fans and a very tight payroll outlook, can the Brewers afford to spend the additional $4MM on an Eric Sogard after he posted a sub-.600 OPS and one of the lowest OPS+ amounts on the entire team?
The Brewers signed Sogard for $4MM in 2020 after he came off a career offensive year. Now coming off a down year, there’s little chance the Brewers would opt to pay him more money for next season.
Based on his total offensive production, that kind of salary just doesn’t make sense for the Brewers to pay Sogard in 2021, and because of that, his option appears likely to be declined. That’ll put Sogard on the free agent market where other teams can come calling and both sides will likely part ways once again.
If this team is going to improve the offense heading into next season, they’re going to need to let these three guys go and fill their spots with someone else.