With baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring on Wednesday night, there’s been a mad rush of moves ahead of it, as both sides brace for a seemingly inevitable lockout. The Brewers have stayed mostly out of the fray thus far. Will that change?
There’s been an unusual amount of free agent signings this November, and it’s all because that everyone knows a lockout is coming and it could last a while. Instead of waiting until February to be able to sign again, it’s easier to sign now and not have to worry about it for a few months.
Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns is known for being patient and waiting for his acquisitions, signing them when no one expects him to. Right now, everyone expects everyone to be making moves and signing guys. It’s a frenzy, and Stearns, to this point has stayed out of it for the most part.
He’s made some minor additions, bringing in Pedro Severino as a backup catcher, trading for Mike Brosseau, and most recently signing Brett Sullivan to be a third string catcher. Two backup catchers and a utilityman hardly count as a splash.
Granted, a lot of the names that have come off the board in recent days weren’t really going to be Brewers targets anyways. A lot of them were upper tier free agents, the big name shortstops and starters that the Brewers weren’t going to be in the market for.
Are the Brewers going to make a big splash move ahead of the pending MLB lockout?
Given Stearns’ history of waiting for the market to undervalue players and then sign them, it’s unlikely Stearns makes a big free agent signing before this lockout begins. Right now, the players being signed are being a bit overvalued if anything. This is not an environment productive to Stearns’ method.
However, trades are a different story. There still could be a trade that comes together that could be a splash. It could also not be a big splash at all. Trades in the Stearns era are never learned about early in advance.
Given the Brewers payroll situation, with several key players in arbitration and Christian Yelich‘s contract extension kicking in, the payroll is going to be tight in 2022, making a splash trade addition far more likely than a splash free agent signing. The Brewers farm system has been improving in its overall talent and depth, and the big league club has plenty of controllable talent to deal from as well.
The Brewers have what it takes to land a big trade target, but being willing to part with whatever it takes is a different story.
So will the Brewers make a splash addition ahead of the lockout that will begin on Thursday morning? Maybe. We never know when Stearns is about to strike or who his targets. You can’t count him out on making a move, but you also shouldn’t be expecting him to make a splash addition in the next day or two either.
Keep in mind that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is on MLB’s labor-policy committee, which is dealing directly with the CBA and its negotiations right now. Attanasio may also have instructed Stearns to wait until the new CBA is agreed to so they can adjust accordingly.
Across baseball, activity will still be going on, but in Milwaukee it’s been fairly quiet, especially on big names. It could stay that way, too.