OF Ben Gamel
Of all the the non-tender options on this list, Ben Gamel is probably the least likely to actually happen. Even though his numbers don’t wow you at first glance, he is a valuable resource to have around at his projected price.
With a different approach at the plate, Gamel came out of the gates hot during Summer Camp and carried that over into the regular season. In his first six games, he went 6 for 20 (.300) with four of his six hits going for extra bases: a double, a triple, and two homers, to be exact.
He tailed off significantly, though, with his average dropping all the way down to .143 at one point. Things would improve a bit toward the end of the season and he would finish 2020 with a .237/.315/.404. slash line.
Those numbers were enough for the Brewers to decline his $2.55MM contract option for 2021. It was the logical move since the team still holds his arbitration rights and projections put Gamel anywhere between $1.7MM and $2.1MM.
Gamel may not have stellar numbers, but his ability to back up every outfield position, and to do it well, make him much more worth the price. If Milwaukee can get him closer to the $1.7MM mark, it explains why he’s the least likely one on this list to be non-tendered.
All that said, the Brewers have two young, pre-arbitration outfielders on the 40-man in Tyrone Taylor and Corey Ray. Taylor didn’t look much worse than Gamel at the plate in limited 2020 action and would have Ray waiting in Triple-A as backup. As much sense as it makes to keep Gamel, the desire to save some money without losing much production could make them pull the trigger.
1B Daniel Vogelbach
This one would hurt for Brewers fans if it happened. Vogelbach became an immediate fan favorite after he was acquired midseason by Milwaukee, not just because of his classic Wisconsin-like build, but also because of his instant injection of offense for the Crew.
After struggling mightily for the Mariners and Blue Jays to begin his 2020 campaign, Vogelbach found new life as a Milwaukee Brewer. His .328/.418/.569 slash line helped propel the offense as did his four homers in just 19 games.
The question is whether those numbers are sustainable. Vogelbach has a .206/.332/.409 slash line for his career and even though he was named an All-Star in 2019, he still tailed off and finished that season slashing .208/.341/.439.
Of course if the Brewers think he can even split the difference between his 2020 numbers and his career marks, his projected arbitration price should be worth it. Vogelbach unexpectedly hit Super-2 status this offseason, but is only projected between $1.4MM and $1.9MM.
If the Brewers expect regression, though, they could go the free agent route. With all the 2021 contract options that were declined around baseball, more reliable players like Mitch Moreland and Carlos Santana have become available. If Milwaukee is willing to spend, Vogelbach could become expendable.
The Brewers still have three weeks to make their non-tender decisions and any free agent signings or trades that happen between now and then could change things. But if things stood the way they are now, these would be your most likely candidates to become free agents at the deadline.