On December 1st, the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire. Barring a new agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, a lockout and a transaction freeze will be put in place. The Brewers need to make some moves before then.
Free agency has gotten off to a faster start than usual this winter, and that’s due to teams and players wanting to sign before the pending lockout that everyone knows is coming. The Brewers have signed a few players and gotten some small things taken care of, but there’s still more they could do.
This lockout could take out most of the offseason, and we may not see transactions again until the beginning of spring training. Rather than wait that long to address some issues, David Stearns could simply make some moves right now.
Here are a few moves that the Brewers should make for their roster before any pending work stoppage and lockout begin on December 1st.
Brewers move to make before a work stoppage #1: Acquire a big bat
This Brewers offense needs help. David Stearns has made some additions around the fringes of the roster, bringing in Mike Brosseau and Pedro Severino on offense so far with Trevor Gott and JC Mejia joining the bullpen options, as well as some players coming in on minor league deals.
But this Brewers offense needs more than just Brosseau and Severino. They need someone with some thump in their bat and they need to boost this lineup.
Whether this acquisition is via a trade like Matt Olson or Matt Chapman from Oakland, or a free agent like Jorge Soler or even Kris Bryant if they want to shoot for the moon, they should make a move that will have a significant impact on this offense.
Brewers move to make before a work stoppage #2: Bring back a bullpen arm
Two key pieces of the Brewers bullpen in 2021 are now free agents: Brad Boxberger and Hunter Strickland. Prior to this work stoppage beginning, Milwaukee should sign at least one of them back, or an equivalent type of bullpen arm.
The Brewers have typically been reliant on young arms in the bullpen in recent years, but there’s always one or two veteran guys that pitch in big roles that Stearns finds along the way.
Boxberger and Strickland were quite good in their roles, and perhaps could be again in 2022 if given the opportunity.
By signing at least one veteran arm, this bullpen depth will also be in a good spot, and the Brewers can avoid the mad rush of signing for arms once the lockout ends and we’re likely close to spring training beginning and teams want arms in camps.
Whether it’s Boxberger, Strickland, or even someone else, the Brewers should bring in at least one more arm for this bullpen before the work stoppage.
Brewers move to make before a work stoppage #3: Sign one of their contract extension candidates
There are a few obvious contract extension candidates for the Brewers. At the top of the list is 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes and his rotation co-ace Brandon Woodruff. Also on that list is Willy Adames and potentially Omar Narvaez.
We’ve seen a few extensions get worked out this past month, with a huge deal coming together for Rays rookie Wander Franco. The Brewers should try to do the same with at least one of their major candidates.
The most expensive of these options will be Corbin Burnes, of course, as he’s the reigning NL Cy Young.
All of these candidates: Burnes, Woodruff, Adames, and Narvaez are arbitration eligible, meaning they need to be tendered a contract for next season. With the tender deadline coming up on November 30th, these two sides will be talking contracts and money and it would be an excellent time to talk about an extension with any one of them.
Things may change in the next CBA, and one of the recently proposed changes is adding a salary floor in future years. For the Brewers to do that, a big extension with one of their core players may help with ensuring they reach that floor.
No matter what happens with the CBA, however, signing any one of these extension candidates would be a great move to make, either before the lockout or after.
There’s only a few more days until the CBA expires. We’ll see plenty of activity around the league until then, and we’ll see if the Brewers get themselves in on the action.