On December 2nd, 2021, MLB lockout out the players. When that happened, a transaction freeze was put in place, halting free agency and trade discussions. The Milwaukee Brewers had several players from their 2021 roster still on the free agent market.
As we are hopefully coming to the end of this lockout and with baseball starting up soon, possibly in time for Opening Day, possibly not, let’s look at free agency and refresh where things stand with the Brewers and their former players.
Entering this offseason, the Brewers knew they had 10 players becoming free agents, with several of them being key contributors.
What is the current status of the Milwaukee Brewers 2021 free agents?
Three 2021 Brewers players already signed major league contracts with other teams prior to the lockout and transaction freeze, and none of them were with Milwaukee.
- Avisail Garcia – Marlins – Four years, $53MM
- Eduardo Escobar – Mets – Two years, $20MM
- Manny Pina – Braves – Two years, $8MM
All three were important members of the 2021 Brewers, especially Avisail Garcia, who led the team with 29 home runs. In response to his loss, the Brewers acquired Hunter Renfroe in a trade with the Red Sox to fill his old job in right field.
Milwaukee also essentially replaced the other two on the roster as well, signing Pedro Severino to take Pina’s job as the backup catcher, and acquiring Mike Brosseau in a trade with Tampa Bay to fill out the infield, although he’s not likely to be in a starter’s role.
Another free agent has reached a minor league contract with another team:
- Daniel Robertson – Twins – Minors
Robertson didn’t feature much for the Brewers in the big leagues in 2021 despite signing a major league contract before the season.
Which 2021 Brewers still remain as free agents on the market?
At the non-tender deadline, the Brewers did not tender contracts to two players, Daniel Vogelbach and John Curtiss. That brought the total number of free agents from this past season to 12, but with the aforementioned signings, the number of Brewers free agents that remain on the market once it opens up again is eight.
- Brett Anderson
- Brad Boxberger
- Hunter Strickland
- Luke Maile
- John Axford
- Daniel Norris
- Daniel Vogelbach
- John Curtiss
None of these remaining players are star-level players. If the Brewers don’t re-sign any of them, they still would be fine and can replace them for similar or lower cost and similar or possibly better production. However, a couple do make sense to possibly return.
With open spots in the bullpen, Boxberger and Strickland make sense as re-sign candidates. The Brewers traded a solid catching prospect in Payton Henry to acquire John Curtiss last July because he had four years of team control. His first few outings in Milwaukee didn’t go well and then he tore his UCL and had to undergo surgery. He will miss all of 2022 but could sign back on a minors deal to rehab and get another chance with the Brewers when fully healthy in 2023.
Other than that, it’s tough to expect anyone else from this list of remaining free agents to come back to Milwaukee in 2022. Brett Anderson’s services are no longer required in Milwaukee with the development of Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby to fill out the rotation. The Brewers already signed Severino and Brett Sullivan to fill out the catching corps so Maile doesn’t have a role here.
Daniel Norris was horrid out of the Brewers bullpen after being acquired in July and John Axford made one appearance before his elbow blew out and he’s 38 years old.
The only mildly plausible name that remains that could return or find a big league job is Daniel Vogelbach. With the addition of the DH to the NL coming this year, that opens up a lot more opportunities for Vogelbach to get ABs and perhaps the Brewers could bring him back to help fill that role for them this year. But there are better options on the market Milwaukee could pursue.
The Crew may still yet be active on the free agent market once it opens up again after the lockout is over, but they’re unlikely to be picking their former players back up.