The Brewers entered the offseason needing to make decisions on four contract options. All of them ended up being declined.
For all that was made of the several contracts to which the Brewers signed players that had options for 2021, only four of those players remained in Milwaukee by the time this offseason began. As of today, that quartet of players are now gone as well.
It began last night when rumors of the team declining Ryan Braun‘s mutual option started circulating, a move confirmed by the club this morning. Then, it was reported today that Ben Gamel was going to have his club option declined by the Brewers as well.
That left fans waiting for news on just two more players with club options for 2021: Jedd Gyorko and Eric Sogard. Well fans no longer have to wait on that news as Milwaukee announced that they would be joining Braun and Gamel in having their options declined.
Caught in up in the Brewers exodus was infielder Ryon Healy who was outrighted to the minors today. Even with Milwaukee’s offense floundering in 2020, he received just seven at bats on the season, collecting one hit, though he did hold the distinction of batting cleanup in the team’s second Wild Card game against the Dodgers in this year’s playoffs.
Of the four players who had their contract options declined by the Brewers today, Gyorko is the only one that stands out as somewhat of a surprise. But it becomes less of one to anyone who’s been paying attention to the rest of the league over the last couple days.
Today’s Brewers moves followed a trend across MLB of parting with players whose options likely would have been picked up in a normal offseason.
In a traditional offseason, Gyorko likely remains a Brewer at the end of the day. After all, $4.5MM is reasonable for a player who led the team in multiple offensive categories and can cover both corner infield spots, positions where the team lacks offense. In fact, we predicted that he would be the one player whose option would be picked up by Milwaukee.
Even with the team’s expected tight payroll situation for 2021, bring Gyorko back was a move would have still made sense for the team. But then news started coming in about some big names from other teams across the league who were having their options declined.
One of the first big names to get announced was Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wong was second on the team with a 1.3 fWAR but was due $12.5MM on his 2021 contract option.
There was also Braves reliever Darren O’Day, as was reported by Jon Heyman. O’Day had a 1.10 ERA in 19 appearances in 2020, has a 2.51 ERA for his career, and had a cheaper option than both Gyorko and Wong at $3.5MM. And yet, he becomes a free agent as well.
Surprise moves haven’t been relegated to just declined options, either. As reported by Zack Meisel of The Athletic, the Indians were planning to place 2020 MLB saves leader Brad Hand, who also had a 2.05 ERA and 0.773 WHIP, on waivers. He was due to be paid $10MM in 2021.
The number of players rumored to have contract options being declined continues to rise by the hour, making the Gyorko decision much less surprising. Considering every other team experienced the same absence of revenue as the Brewers in 2020, it would stand to reason that many of them will be in their own tight payroll situations themselves.
It’s entirely possible that one or more of the four Brewers whose options were declined return to the team on a cheaper deal for 2021. If they don’t, there are shaping up to be plenty of options on the market for Milwaukee to choose from this offseason.