The Milwaukee Brewers made it to October this season with a 29-31 record, but they were promptly swept in two games by the eventual champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They should easily be in the playoff conversation again with a few strategic signings.
Find the Bargains
David Stearns has been pretty good at finding low-cost options with a limited payroll. He will likely be tasked to do it again as the Brewers, who don’t spend much anyway, may tighten the purse strings even more. Luckily for the Brew Crew, salaries will be depressed and there are solid pieces on the market who could be brought in on cheaper contracts. The upside for the Brewers is that they will be getting Lorenzo Cain back and much better years from Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura, who both struggled. Even with bounce-back years from their regulars, Stearns will still need to fill holes on a limited payroll.
Find an Infield
While Hiura is entrenched at second base, there are questions around the rest of the infield including behind the plate. Ryan Braun‘s option was declined as he joins Eric Sogard and Jedd Gyorko as free agents. The real decisions will be made by December 2. By then Milwaukee has to choose whether to non-tender Omar Narvaez, Daniel Vogelbach, and Orlando Arcia. If the Brewers are hell-bent on saving every penny, they may go into free agency with Hiura and a bunch of open spots around the diamond.
Keys to the Offseason
Make the Right Decisions
Searching for deals in free agency may seem like the right way to go, but the grass isn’t always greener on that side. The Brewers have a couple of decent options behind the plate with Manny Pina and Jacob Nottingham so Narvaez’s estimated price tag of around $3 million may not be worth it. Vogelbach found a home in Milwaukee last season toward the end of the year. What the Brewers need to ask themselves is if that was the real Vogelbach and is he worth around $2 million. Arcia had a solid offensive year last season with a career-high .734 OPS. He is still just 26 and if the Brewers believe he can get back to 2017 numbers, he would be a steal at his likely arbitration number of $3-$4 million.
Ha-Seong Kim, 25, SS/3B
The Kiwoom Heroes recently posted the young Korean star. While he has played primarily at shortstop, major league teams feel he could slot in at third or even second base. He has an impressive power-speed combo with 49 HRs and 56 SBs over the past two years in the KBO. There will likely be a bidding war, but the Brewers may be wise in spending the money now on Kim, who could be an absolute bargain in a short time. A contract is hard to pinpoint, but one might expect a five to six-year deal of around $5-$8 million a year.
Jake Lamb, 30, 3B/1B
The former All-Star is looking to revive his career. In 2017 Lamb hit 30 HRs and drove in 105 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. It looked like he would be a mainstay on top-10 hot corner lists for the foreseeable future. Lamb’s star has fallen pretty far due to injuries and lack of consistent playing time. The Brewers would be a nice fit for Lamb as his power stroke would certainly work at Miller Park. Milwaukee would be getting an affordable power bat who just turned 30 and is hungry to turn his career around and cash in. This will likely be a one-year deal at $3-$5 million with a possible team option for 2022.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 35, IF
The switch-hitting veteran is a solid option for the Brew Crew. He has playoff experience, including a World Series ring, and although he should not be at shortstop anymore, Cabrera can play the other infield spots adequately. He also gives Milwaukee an option from both sides of the plate as Craig Counsell likes to play matchups as much as any manager in the league. A one-year deal at around $2 million would get him in the door.
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