With three million fans not coming in and out of Miller Park in 2020, Milwaukee Brewers fans aren’t holding their breath when it comes to signing big name free agents.
With a payroll that could be between $85-90 million, a likely scenario is that the Brewers make some major trades to help complete their roster. Milwaukee needs several infielders and a starting pitcher to compete for the NL Central.
Here are four players that are most likely to be traded heading into the 2021 season.
1. Josh Hader
It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers are always open to hearing offers for Josh Hader. This offseason seems the most likely year it would happen. The Brewers do have arbitration control with Hader for three more seasons, but the amount to negotiate will keep going up.
If the Brewers want to save some team salary space and receive one to three players, several of them who could be plugged in already, it would be hard to say no. Devin Williams emerging for the Brewers, probably as the future closer for the team, also solidifies the bullpen. Even without Hader, Milwaukee has one of the best bullpens in the game.
I do believe David Stearns when he says he isn’t actively trying to move Hader. But never say never. Some great offers might come across the table soon.
Hader should make around $6 million in 2021. That’s very enticing for a team who would have basically three years of control and receiving one of the best relievers in Major League Baseball.
2. Lorenzo Cain
I don’t want this to happen. The man is a locker room leader and an overall great player and person. But, in a year where teams will be cutting or dumping salary, it’s possible that Lorenzo Cain and his $17 million in 2021 could be gone.
Cain will turn 35 during next season. And while he’s had almost a year to recover and train after opting out of the 2020 season, Cain will still have a few injuries during his active contract. He gives it his all out there in center, and that will continue to lead to bumps and bruises after all these years playing baseball.
Again, I don’t want it to happen. But, if the Brewers can dump almost one-fourth of their team salary and get some players in return, I don’t think they would say no. Brewer fans might cause some uproar. But if in return the Brewers receive an All-Star caliber starting pitcher, the sting will be less severe.
3. Omar Narvaez
In case you forgot, Milwaukee traded for Omar Narvaez just last offseason. They had hoped his bat would help the Brewers down the stretch. His defense was solid and better than expected, but his bat was not.
Manny Pina will return from injury and had a great 2020 season before that happened. He earned his starting catching spot and another locker room and fan favorite. Jacob Nottingham also got plenty of at-bats due to Pina’s injury and Narvaez’s lack of hitting. Nottingham is already another rising fan favorite. Is 60% of the reason his hair and face combo? Possibly. He didn’t exactly blow anyone away, but did show potential for a possible breakout year in 2021.
If you have two catchers already, you can definitely use another one like Narvaez. He should have a bounce back year in 2021, but if the Brewers are ready to make a change perhaps they can get another team to pay for him.
4. Ben Gamel
Trading Ben Gamel is more likely than Cain in all honesty. Gamel has been a solid player for the Brewers ever since he was traded from Seattle. He’s had some great moments for the Brewers the last few years, and was needed in 2020 after Cain opted out and injuries were piling up in the Brewers outfield.
They also have Tyrone Taylor, Corey Ray, Billy McKinney, and Mark Mathias as their fringe roster depth. Plus, I am sure there are plenty of young outfielders out there with lots of control that interest David Stearns as we speak. They traded Domingo Santana for Ben Gamel and a pitching prospect originally. Something similar could be done with Gamel.
Will any of these players actually be traded? Probably not. But who saw the Zach Davies and Trent Grisham trade happening last offseason? I know I didn’t. Of anyone listed above, Hader is the most likely to get traded.
Feel free to reach out and yell at me when Spring Training starts and none of it happens.