The Brewers like to have roster flexibility as they go through a season. Minor league options are a key part of that flexibility.
Per the CBA, players can no longer be optioned more than five times in a season without being exposed to waivers. This somewhat limited the Brewers' ability to change guys out of the bullpen a number of times throughout the year so the bullpen shuttle between Milwaukee and Nashville won't be making as many trips. But that doesn't make a player having those options any less important.
Players get three minor league option years. Once they're added to the 40 man roster, if they get sent to the minor leagues for a total of 20 days, that will count as an option year. They can be sent up and down as often as the team sees fit, but only one "option" will count. If a player isn't sent down to the minors in a season, they retain that year, but only until they reach 5 years of MLB service time.
Coming into spring training players without minor league options that are on the roster bubble are fighting to stick in the organization. They can't simply be sent to minor league camp if they don't make the big league team. They will have to be released and enter free agency or get traded.
Entering the 2023 season, these Brewers players with less than five years of service time are without minor league options.
There are eight players on the 40 man roster who are out of minor league options with less than five years of service time: Rowdy Tellez, Tyrone Taylor, Keston Hiura, Javy Guerra, Matt Bush, Bryse Wilson, Adrian Houser, and Joel Payamps
Rowdy Tellez isn't really in any danger of being sent down to the minors to begin with. He's coming off a 35 homer campaign and is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Brewers once again in 2023.
Tyrone Taylor has proven he's a big league player, but his role is in question. He struggled in the starting job and may be best suited for a bench role, but with so many talented young outfielders ready for big league jobs, how much longer will Taylor be able to hold on to his roster spot? He'll likely make the team out of camp, but how much playing time he gets is yet to be determined.
Keston Hiura is in real danger of losing his roster spot. In previous years when Hiura struggled mightily, the Brewers sent him down to Triple-A to get some regular ABs. He usually righted the ship immediately in the minors but still struggled to gain momentum in the big leagues. Now the option to send him down is no longer there. Hiura will have to earn his roster spot not only in spring training, but every single day after. If he doesn't get it going offensively, with his lack of a defensive home, the lack of options may push him out of the organization entirely.
Most of the rest of the guys here are fighting for bullpen spots. Javy Guerra, Joel Payamps, and Bryse Wilson were all offseason acquisitions. Wilson will compete for a rotation spot in spring but is unlikely to crack that group and his best hope is to stick as a long reliever. Payamps has bounced around and came over in the William Contreras trade while Guerra is a shortstop turned reliever with electric stuff but has command problems.
Adrian Houser didn't have a strong 2022 and he may lose his rotation spot. Houser has had prior success in the bullpen and he may go back there again. Matt Bush is practically a lock to make the team. He was a Trade Deadline acquisition last year and is in line to be the 8th inning set up man for Devin Williams in 2023.
There are also a couple of non-roster invitees who are out of minor league options. Should they make the big league team out of camp or stick around the organization and get called up later in the season, they would not be eligible to be optioned back down. Those players are: Josh VanMeter, Skye Bolt, Monte Harrison, Robert Stock, Thomas Pannone, Thyago Vieira, and J.C. Mejia.