The Milwaukee Brewers current number of World Series titles is zero.
I am going to be honest, being a General Manager for one article caused me enough anxiety. I can’t imagine how real GMs do it. It’s a lot of pressure to be reasonable and put together a Brewers team that can win the World Series next season.
So, let’s say we are the Brewers. Our current payroll is around $70MM and we will probably end up spending around $90MM. That means we can only spend around $20MM and still be able to win a World Series.
Let’s get at it.
Spend Money on a Starting Pitcher
The Brewers could solidify their rotation and the NL Central at minimum with another experienced starter on the mound. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are already locks. But the rest of the rotation is in question, and could rotate between Josh Lindblom, Brent Suter, Adrian Houser, Freddy Peralta, and Eric Lauer.
Based on the starting pitcher signings already, it won’t be cheap. Mike Minor just signed with Kansas City Royals for two years and $18MM. Marcus Stroman signed a qualifying offer with Mets for $18.9MM.
So who can the Brewers grab? A few come to mind.
Taijuan Walker is an ideal candidate. He signed a one-year deal for $2MM in 2020 with the Seattle Mariners and was eventually traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Walker had flashes of a comeback and some impressive outings after losing most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The Brewers could sign him to a two or three year deal between $10-15MM.
If not Walker, why not offer a one-year deal to someone like Jose Quintana? He made an average of $5.3MM with Cubs and is poised for a comeback year after injuring his thumb while washing the dishes. It gives me flashbacks of Jonathan Lucroy and luggage.
Milwaukee could offer him a one-year, $6MM deal to help solidify the rotation. They could pull an Aramis Ramirez repeat and steal a Cubs player for our benefit. It would also be a great one-year option for Quintana. Say he comes in and just destroys it on the mound. Next offseason, he can sign the one final big contract of his career, and the Brewers can be that in-between team while trying to get a World Series.
Remaining salary: $14MM
Sign Mitch Moreland and/or Maikel Franco
Signing these players would immediately fill the needs at first (Moreland) and third (Franco) base.
In 2020, Moreland signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Boston Red Sox and was traded to the San Diego Padres during the season. He had impressive numbers before being traded, but didn’t do as well in San Diego. He ended the year with a .265 average, ten home runs and 29 RBIs.
Franco’s contract last year was very similar. Actually, almost identical. He signed a one-year, $2.95MM deal with the Kansas City Royals. He ended with a .278 average, eight home runs and 38 RBIs.
Both players would be an upgrade from last year. Both are in perfect price ranges for the Brewers. Moreland is 35, but Franco is only 28. I can see signing Moreland to a one-year, $4MM deal and could also afford Franco on a two-year, $9MM deal with incentives for both or options.
Let’s say they sign both for a combined $8MM. Remaining Salary: $6MM
Bring Back Old Favorites
Now that the Brewers have an above-average third option in their starting rotation and filled in the infield, they can fill out the rest of their roster with former Brewers. We know they have the talent, and the fans wouldn’t hate it.
Shaw would back up third and have some possible bats at designated hitter if it sticks around for next year. Thames can also fill that role, and play first base. Gyorko is a great utility man and deserves another chance on this roster. One to three of these players could be signed in the $1-3MM range next season, and the Brewers could make that happen if they are going all-in.
Now, the number of these guys they will be able to sign depends on first and third base. Say they only sign Moreland, they would probably only sign Gyorko or Shaw. If Franco is signed, they would probably do Gyorko or Thames.
Remaining Salary: $4-5MM
Don’t Trade Josh Hader
Hader is on every MLB list or radar for perfect trade candidates. Hader is obviously one of the best relievers in the business, and should make over $5.5MM in 2021.
He has three more years of control, which makes him a huge bargaining chip if the Brewers need it or want to restock their team with a solid starting lineup or ready-to-play minor league players.
But, if Milwaukee wants to win a World Series this year, this can all wait. The Brewers have maybe the best bullpen in Major League Baseball. They now have Hader and the 2020 National League Rookie of the Year Devin Williams. They also have other great pieces in Justin Topa, Eric Yardley, Drew Rasmussen, Ray Black, J.P. Feyereisen and other great talent in their bullpen group. Suter, Peralta, Lauer and Houser can all fill relief innings as well if they won’t be in the rotation.
Hader’s stock has never been higher, but it could skyrocket even more with a World Series title added to his resume. Milwaukee can wait a year to trade him.
Remaining Salary: Still $4-5MM
The Return of Ryan Braun
I know this isn’t exactly bold, but it should happen if the Brewers are going to win a World Series.
Ryan Braun deserves a farewell tour. One more season in a Brewers uniform in front of fans as they go for the organization’s first championship. He can play DH. He can backup the outfield with Tyrone Taylor. Milwaukee winning a World Series without him seems insane.
Who would honestly be against giving Braun $4-5MM for one final season? You know he would have 12-15 clutch moments during the season and if he isn’t playing every day, he can stay healthy and contribute. It’s what everyone wants. Let’s make it happen. Ryan Braun Forever.
With Braun added, look at this lineup:
Lorenzo Cain CF
Keston Hiura 2B
Doesn’t it just look amazing?
So there it is. My “Moneyball”-type of moves to bring Milwaukee its first World Series win. Doing all of these moves might not be possible, but reaching a little bit with salary and taking a few risks could lead to a lot of success. You have your superstar, your upgraded starting pitching, your upgraded infield, your stacked bullpen, your fan favorites and your returning legend.
What’s not to love?