A vast majority of the Milwaukee Brewers core is under contract for the 2022 season and beyond. Most importantly this includes there young pitching core but hitters Willy Adames, Christian Yelich, and others are under club control as well.
From a free agent standpoint, there are eight players on the roster whose futures remain up in the air. The unrestricted free agents include Brett Anderson, Brad Boxberger, Daniel Norris, Hunter Strickland, Manny Pina, and Eduardo Escobar.
Other players whose futures are murky include, Avisail Garcia, who has a mutual option, and Jackie Bradley Jr who has a player option that he is unlikely to decline. There also are 14 players who are projected to be arbitration eligible in which the Brewers will have to make decision on. All of these players saw substantial playing time with the Brewers during the 2021 season, so these decisions will not be easy.
With taking all of this into consideration, there will be Brewers players who will not return for the 2022 season. In this article we will look at three players who are doomed to not return next year.
1) LHP Brett Anderson
In two years with Milwaukee, Anderson posted nearly identical ERAs of 4.21 in 2020 and 4.22 in 2021. Both years he battled on and off injury, but ultimately he was an effective innings eater for manager Craig Counsell as the team’s fifth or sixth starter.
With free agency looming, David Stearns will be forced to decide if he desires to bring Anderson back or not. With young pitching prospects Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small poised to serve bigger roles in the 2022 starting rotation, it is hard to image Anderson returning. Anderson understands this himself and had nothing but nice words to say about the organization.
2) RHP Brad Boxberger
Despite not making the Brewers major league roster out of spring training, Boxberger remained with the Crew and eventually played his way into one of his best seasons as a pro. He was Craig Counsell’s most used bullpen arm (71 appearances) and he earned the opportunity to pitch in high leverage situations. He finished the season with a 3.34 ERA over 64 innings pitched.
With his great season, Boxberger is in line for much deserved pay increase when compared to his $1MM 2021 salary. At age 33 many clubs may not be willing to sign him to a long term deal, but it is inevitable that he gets paid more in 2022. With the Brewers payroll on the rise, they may find themselves not being able to cover this increase.
3) C Luke Maile
Maile was signed last off-season to be the teams third string catcher. At that time, his veteran presence was even more valuable given he had one minor league option remaining. Fast forward to this upcoming off-season, he is now optionless thus making retaining him hard to envision.
The Brewers have a few options going forward. Either A) Sign another veteran catcher with minor league options, B) retain Manny Pina as the backup catcher and use prospect Mario Feliciano as the third string catcher, C) sign a new backup catcher, or D) Keep Maile as the backup option.
Even if they do keep Maile around initially, Feliciano is going to force his way to the roster at some point in 2022. When he does, Maile would be out of options and would then be DFA’ed. Regardless, Maile isn’t likely to be a long-term piece in Milwaukee.
While nothing is for sure, out of the players the Brewers have to make decisions on these three appear doomed to not return in 2022. They all played roles for the Crew in 2021 and if their playing days with the team are indeed done, we thank them dearly!