Every offseason, MLB teams have decisions to make about a number of players who are in the arbitration years of their careers, decisions which could include raises or not tendering a contract at all. Some of those decisions are easy while others require a little more thought.
The Milwaukee Brewers are a team that has many decisions to make in comparison to others as they have 12 arbitration eligible players to deal with this offseason, the ninth most in the league. Of those dozen players, three stand out as particularly interesting cases.
Here are the three most interesting arbitration decisions that the Milwaukee Brewers will have to make this offseason.
1. SP Brandon Woodruff
The recent unfortunate news about Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff catapulted him right to the top of this list. That news, of course, is that the 30-year-old will miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season after recently undergoing shoulder surgery.
Woodruff has been one of the top Brewers starters for years and was projected to make $11.6MM in arbitration by MLB Trade Rumors in his final year of arbitration. But now that he may not see the field at all next season, what on earth does Milwaukee do with him?
What type of contract to the Brewers tender for a player who might not even play next season? Do they instead try to offer him a two-year contract in hopes of getting him back for 2025? Would they even want to do that for what would be a 32-year-old coming off of major shoulder surgery? Those are questions fans hoped would never have to be answered but are all on the table this offseason.
2. 1B Rowdy Tellez
Early this season, it didn't just feel certain that an arbitration raise would be in play for first baseman Rowdy Tellez, but maybe even a contract extension. Now, it's easy to question whether or not the fan favorite will even be on the roster in 2024.
Tellez started the 2023 season off as one of the better offensive players on the team before he slumped hard, fought injury, and finished with his worst season as a Brewer. Now, through three seasons in Milwaukee, he has seen his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage all decrease each year.
Tellez is projected for a salary increase to $5.9MM, which is a lot for a player who produced as little as he did last year, which makes him a potential non-tender candidate. If that were to happen, however, the Brewers would be without a first baseman, which is not a comfortable position to be in. They would have to have a solid plan going forward if that ends up being the case.
3. OF Tyrone Taylor
With a bunch of young, up-and-coming rookie outfielders waiting in the wings, it felt for a while that Tyrone Taylor's days on the Brewers roster were numbered. It didn't help that in five seasons with Milwaukee, he had never quite lived up to those second round draft pick expectations.
But after a few seasons where he started out hot and faded as the season went on, Taylor did the opposite in 2023 and was one of the team's best hitters for the last couple months of the year. With recency bias on his side, it makes a projected $1.7MM salary seem pretty palatable.
That doesn't change the fact that the Brewers still have a logjam in the outfield. Youngsters Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick, and Joey Wiemer will all be fighting for a spot next season alongside former MVP Christian Yelich. Top prospect Jackson Chourio will also likely get a chance to make the roster and the team still has to make a decision on Mark Canha's contract option. Does that leave room for Taylor?