Thanks to a mostly strong run of play of late, the Milwaukee Brewers are in a strong position heading into the last few weeks of the regular season. The Cubs have kept things interesting in the division race, but the Brewers currently hold a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central and are starting to get some appreciation nationally for their playoff aspirations.
While things are still up in the air the rest of this season, this is also the time of the year when we need to start looking ahead to the offseason and what it could hold. The Brewers have some important choices approaching when it comes to their payroll and while there is no shot they become a $200+ million team this offseason, they should still have some room to operate and make some moves.
Current projected 2024 Milwaukee Brewers payroll
All Brewers payroll figures for the purposes of this have been pulled from Spotrac and are subject to change. Sometimes unknown incentives or details of contracts become public knowledge and can mess with the payroll along with options, buyouts, arbitration figures, and not tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players. This is an initial glance, not the final numbers. One important figure to keep in mind is the luxury tax threshold which will be $237 million in 2024.
Total projected payroll: $65,101,628
Projected luxury tax payroll: $62,005,554
Variable costs: Milwaukee has three players with club options for next season in Mark Canha ($11.5 million), Andrew Chafin ($7.25 million), and Justin Wilson ($2.5 million). No players hold player options and their pending free agents Jesse Winker, Carlos Santana, Brian Anderson, Darin Ruf, Julio Teheran, and Victor Caratini are all either likely to hit free agency and/or cheap enough to not move the needle much if the Brewers bring them back.
That brings us to the heart of the matter for Milwaukee with their arbitration eligible players. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Willy Adames are the big names and given all of the drama with Burnes' arbitration last offseason, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that he could get traded before the 2024 season. Other notable arbitration guys include Rowdy Tellez, Devin Williams, Adrian Houser, and Joel Payamps.
The Brewers also still have some money tied up in deferred salaries for Kolten Wong, Ryan Braun, and Lorenzo Cain in 2024.
How the Brewers' current payroll projections could effect them this offseason
The luxury tax threshold clearly isn't going to matter to Milwaukee as they have shown zero interest in even getting anywhere close to that amount of payroll. Even with all of the pending free agents coming off the books, the Brewers are probably still going to be shopping on a budget this offseason yet again.
All eyes are going to be on the big arbitration guys and whether or not the Brewers decide to trade one or both of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. Milwaukee's relationship with Burnes was severely hurt by how the team handled his arbitration hearing, so don't expect him to do the team any favors in arbitration this go around. Both players are also likely to be quite expensive in arbitration (although Woodruff's injury clouds the picture a bit), so the Brewers could decide to move them to cut costs and place their bets on the young guys coming up. Keep an eye on Devin Williams' arbitration figure this coming season as he isn't likely to remain cheap for long, either.
Milwaukee may want to just let their pending free agents leave and fill their roster spots with prospects assuming they think that Jackson Chourio and Tyler Black are close enough to being ready to place that bet. However, it still does seem likely that Milwaukee will add a couple players this offseason, although it is probably safe to assume they won't be shopping in the deep end of the free agent pool even if they jettison Burnes and/or Woodruff.