Daniel Vogelbach and Rowdy Tellez are two fan favorites in Milwaukee. They are both beefy in stature, hit for power from the left side of the plate, and play first base. Unfortunately, tough decisions lie ahead regarding both of their futures as Brewers.
Both Tellez and Vogelbach are unproven as everyday players and struggled with health last year. Tellez finished 2021 with a 116 OPS+ but missed a good portion of September with a knee injury. Vogelbach, in a larger sample size, had a 97 OPS+ but also missed multiple months with hamstring and foot injuries.
November 30th marks the non-tender deadline. This year, the Brewers have 13 players in total eligible for arbitration. While a vast majority of them are core players in the organization and no-brainers to tender a contract, both Vogelbach and Tellez are on the list and it is very likely that only one will be issued a contract for 2022.
According to MLB trade rumors, Vogelbach is projected a salary of $2MM next season. Tellez slides in just under him at $1.9MM. Both players are under club control until 2025 but have no minor league options remaining. With both of them hitting left handed, it becomes hard to justify retaining both players.
The most likely scenario is that the Brewers keep just one player between Vogelbach and Tellez. But which one should they choose?
Hiura is currently on the Brewers 40 man roster, but after a disappointing 2021 season there are lots of questions regarding his ability to hit and play a solid first base. There have been talks that he could move to the outfield, but this remains to be seen. If the Brewers do not believe that Hiura is a serviceable defender at first, then they would want to pick up a right handed batter in free agency to complement Vogelbach or Tellez.
As it stands today, there is no designated hitter in the National League. If this were to change prior to the start of the 2022 season, having Vogelbach or Tellez serve as the full time DH when a right handed pitcher is on the mound may be a solution to retain both players. However, a decision regarding this matter will not be made prior to the non-tender deadline.
It also is possible that the Brewers go in an entire different direction all together. Matt Olson is a legit trade target, but it is unclear if the Brewers would be willing to pay the high asking price. Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are the top two free agent choices, but they will also be pricey to obtain.
If one had to guess which direction the Brewers were leaning, odds are that Tellez will be tendered a contract for 2022. He started over Vogelbach in the playoffs, had many clutch hits, and overall seems like a better option.
It will be interesting to see what David Stearns elects to do. We’ll find out in a few days.