My Milwaukee Brewers 2017-18 Offseason Plan

Last year I participated in a “what would you do if you were the General Manager of the Brewers” scenario.  I’m a bit late to post my plan for this offseason, but nothing much has happened so far with the Brewers.  So away we go…and I’ll again post a follow-up right before the 2018 season starts to see if anything I did remotely compares to the real GM, David Stearns.

Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):

Write “tender” or “non-tender” after each of the following names. You can also trade a player before or after tendering a contract.

  • Jared Hughes – $2.2 mil: Tender
  • Jeremy Jeffress – $2.6 mil: Tender
  • Stephen Vogt – $3.9 mil: Non-tender
  • Jonathan Villar – $3.0 mil: Tender
  • Jimmy Nelson – $4.7 mil: Tender
  • Hernan Perez – $2.2 mil: Tender
  • Corey Knebel – $4.1 mil: Tender

Explain the toughest calls if necessary:

I’d be exploring a cheaper option rather than Vogt, which isn’t really a tough call in my mind.

Impending free agents (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)

Neil Walker: made $17.2 mil in 2017 (ineligible for QO): I’d take a pass, save some money and give Villar a chance to rebound. If he hasn’t by mid-season, there’s usually a Neil Walker type out there a team is looking to unload we could pick up.

Anthony Swarzak: made $900K in 2017 (ineligible for QO): Re-sign for 2 years for $12 MM

Matt Garza: made $12.5 MM in 2017: Buh-bye

Free Agents

Swarzak (as mentioned above)

Pat Neshek: 2 years, $12 MM – Veteran sidearm pitcher with ridiculous strikeout/innings rate.  I wanted the Brewers to go after him last summer before the Phillies traded him to the Rockies.

Miles Mikolas: 2 years, $10 MM – Thinking outside the box like David Stearns.  Dude dominated in Japan the last three years and we can always use some starting depth while waiting for Jimmy Nelson to return and others to develop.  He might need to be shut down in September as he Beats giving some guy on the wrong side of 30 a four year contract for big bucks.

Chris Iannetta: 1 year, $2 MM – He had a nice rebound year with Arizona last year and would be a cheaper option than Vogt. His age makes him a good veteran mentor for young pitchers and other catchers.

Mike Aviles: 1 year, $500,000 – Just a depth signing for a veteran/mentor type off the bench who can play multiple positions.

I just spent $19.5 MM for the 2018 season on five free agents. Beats paying one Matt Garza $12.5 MM, doesn’t it?

Trades

Jesus Aguilar and Keon Broxton to Seattle for the following pitching prospects: Thyago Vieira (8th ranked), Wyatt Mills (22nd ranked), and Robert Duggar.  Duggar and Mills are a ways from the big leagues, and Duggar started 18 games out of 31 appearances in 2017.  Vieira can hit 100 mph with his fastball and needs a little more development before becoming a late inning reliever in the majors.  Trading Broxton and Aguilar will open roster spots for Brett Phillips and Lewis Brinson.

Extensions:

I would do everything in my power to lock up Orlando Arcia and Domingo Santana long term. My salary projection below does not include this happening, however.

Summary

Here’s your lineup:

Catcher: Manny Pina
First Base: Eric Thames
Second Base: Jonathan Villar
Shortstop: Orlando Arcia
Third Base: Travis Shaw
Left Field: Ryan Braun
Center Field: Lewis Brinson
Right Field: Domingo Santana
BENCH: Hernan Perez
BENCH: Brett Phillips
BENCH: Mike Aviles
BENCH: Eric Sogard
BENCH: Chris Iannetta

SP1: Chase Anderson
SP2: Zach Davies
SP3: Brandon Woodruff
SP4: Josh Hader
SP5: Miles Mikolas
BP: Corey Knebel
BP: Jared Hughes
BP: Jeremy Jeffress
BP: Brent Suter
BP: Anthony Swarzek
BP: Junior Guerra
BP: Pat Neshek

Injured: Jimmy Nelson

Here is the short version of my strategy: Staying the course and keeping payroll down for the moment, which will allow for spending a little later if needed.  Opening spots for Brinson and Phillips to play regularly as I’ve seen enough of Broxton.  I’m trading him for even more pitching depth, similar to previous deals by Stearns.  We’re getting to the point where someone like Oliver Drake won’t be able to hang around for an entire season, due to the number of arms waiting in the wings for a shot.

I want Hader in my rotation, so re-signing Swarzek and picking up Neshek allow me to make that move. When Nelson returns from the DL, most likely either Mikolas or Woodruff will be the odd man out.

I honestly think this is a team that could win 90+ games in 2018 and make the playoffs.

Payroll

Guaranteed contracts (9 players – includes free agents signings) – $51.65 million

Arbitration (6 players) – $18.8 million

Pre-arb players (10) – $5.45 million

TOTAL: $75.90 million

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