The Brewers have some work to do to improve the team this offseason. Here are two free agents that one site has playing in Milwaukee in 2021.
Before teams were able to start planning their free agency strategy, they needed to make decision on 2021 contract options. The Brewers completed that exercise last week, ultimately deciding to decline all four options that needed to be decided upon.
So now they, and other teams across the league, get to focus on the signing of free agents. That also means that it’s that time in the offseason where fans, writers, and websites attempt to predict what free agents will sign where.
Like last offseason, MLB Trade Rumors released their set of predictions for who they deem are the top 50 free agents in the 2020-2021 offseason this week. It not only predicts what team each free agent will sign with, but also what type of contract they might sign.
The Brewers may not have much to work with in terms of payroll this offseason, but MLB Trade Rumors still predicts that they will still end up signing two of the players on their list. So who are the two free agents they are projecting to be wearing a Brewer uniform in 2021?
LHP Robbie Ray – 1 year, $6MM
The Brewers have been linked to Robbie Ray for a potential offseason or midseason trade in the past. Now his name is popping up as a possible free agent signee for the team and after his performance in 2020, he might be much more realistically affordable for Milwaukee this time around.
Ray took quite a step back in 2020, finishing with a 2-5 record and a combined 6.62 ERA and 1.897 WHIP pitching for both the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays, who acquired him from Arizona midseason. Most concerning was his walk percentage, which jumped all the way up to a career-worst 17.9%, much higher than his career average of 11.1%.
Ray became a hot commodity over the last couple years after his breakout 2017 campaign. That year he went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA an a 1.154 WHIP, was named to the All-Star game as a Diamondback, and finished seventh in the Cy Young voting.
At 29 years old, there would be hope that Ray could still find his 2017 level of potential and as a starter who always has one of the higher strikeout rates in the league, he would fit right in on this pitching staff. The Brewers could instead opt to bring back fellow left Brett Anderson or even fill all their starting spots internally, but if they do go the free agency route, Ray could be attainable.
1B Carlos Santana – 1 year, $6MM
After a season that mostly saw a black hole of production at the area outside of when Jedd Gyorko‘s bat actually got in the lineup, corner infield is high on the Brewers’ wish list this offseason. Though options at the two corners aren’t great, MLB Trade Rumors still has a free agent first baseman pegged for Milwaukee.
On the surface, it seems as though former Indians first baseman Carlos Santana took a step back in 2020 like many other players across the league. His average dipped below the Mendoza Line to .199 and his slugging percentage dropped to .350, both career lows for a season. As a result, Cleveland declined his 2021 option.
Still there were some reasons to hope for a quick bounceback in 2021. Santana’s .349 on base percentage wasn’t too far off his career rate (.366), mostly because he continued to have one of the league’s best walk rates (18.4%, 6th in MLB) while leading all of MLB with 47 walks. He also finished third on the Indians with eight bombs.
Santana will turn 35 early next season, so he’s getting up there in age, but he is also just one year removed from the best season in his career. 2019 saw him slash .281/.397/.515 with 34 homers and 110 runs scored, earning him his lone All-Star nod and also his only Silver Slugger.
The lack of a designated hitter would not be a deal breaker either as Santana played all 60 games at first base for Cleveland last season. If the Brewers believe he can bounce back to his 2013-2019 form where he never had a FanGraphs WAR below 1.8, a potential $6MM price tag would be well worth it.
There will certainly be plenty more free agents linked to the Brewers over the coming months. We’ll see which ones actually end up as Brewers in 2021.