When your front office sabotages the season and you turn around and dump the payroll in the offseason, how do you win back your fan base? I was just wondering as a former subscription holder.
No fuzzy warm-up questions here. Welcome to the inbox.
We’re starting off on the wrong foot because the premise of the question is that David Stearns sabotaged last season by trading Josh Hader. It’s the frustration that speaks. As for the wage dumping accusation, the only offseason trade that falls into that category is Hunter Renfroe in heaven.
The Brewers added salary when they traded Kolten Wong to the Mariners. They will add a lot more salary when they start signing their referee-eligible players. And with so much offseason ahead, we don’t yet know if the payroll will rise or fall from last year’s club-record total north of $130 million.
Moving on to the Hader trade…yes, there was a financial component to that deal, in that the Brewers came out of their final year of arbitration eligibility. (Cot’s Contracts Hader projects will earn something like $12.75 million in 2023.) But there was also a baseball component. Some markets support $100 million closes; some don’t. And those who don’t also can’t afford to let elite talent into free agency without refreshing the system with potential talent. For all of these reasons, the Brewers decided they were going to trade Hader before he reached free agency.
The tricky question was when.
When his performance plummeted in July, there was urgency to make a decision. What if Hader continued to sputter in August and September? Instead of pushing the decision back to “2023 Trade Deadline or bust,” the brewers opted to make a deal they thought would work now and later: Hader to the Padres for Taylor Rogers, himself an elite closer in a period. tough (no commitment beyond ’22) plus two prospects they really like in southpaw Robert Gasser and outfielder Esteury Ruiz. Over the next few months, the Hader-for-Rogers trade backfired. The Brewers missed the playoffs. Hader bounced back and helped the Padres get closer to the World Series. Stearns, Matt Arnold and Craig Counsell all acknowledged that the swap didn’t work out as they had hoped.
Only time will tell if the Brewers got good value for one of baseball’s best players. Ruiz has already paid off by landing five years from an All-Star receiver (William Contreras). We’ll see what happens with Gasser, the Brewers’ No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
So that’s the logic of the Hader trade. Brewers officials should have been better prepared for the backlash from fans and their own players, given the team was in first place at the time and started the second half well. Internally, they know they failed in the message. They will have to do better the next time an unpopular trade happens.
Where did this team significantly improve in the offseason to improve from the last two years of poor offense to once again be an above average group?
The premise of the question is off. The Brewers were a above average attack in the 2022 race rating environment – 4% above average, to be precise, based on their 104 wRC+. This ranked 11th out of 30 teams. They were 10th out of 30 teams at 4.48 points per game. They were 13th in on-base percentage and 10th in slugging percentage and third in homers. They also had the fourth most strikeouts and ranked in the bottom half in hits and batting average, so no one is saying they can’t be better. But in today’s game they were an above average attack.
Do you think the Brewers have positioned themselves to benefit from MLB’s new prospect promotion incentive by opening the season with Sal Frelick on the roster?
Baseball’s latest collective bargaining agreement introduced the Prospect Promotion Incentive, a clause intended to discourage service time manipulation that can have huge benefits for teams. It applies to eligible rookie prospects who appear on at least two Top 100 lists between MLB Pipeline, ESPN and Baseball America for Opening Day, and accumulate one year of MLB service. If that player wins the Rookie of the Year award that year or finishes in the top three of MVP or Cy Young voting in a season before qualifying for salary arbitration, his team gets a pick. additional repechage. A single player can earn up to three picks over the years if they consistently rank among the top voters.
The Mariners were the first team to benefit, with Julio Rodríguez winning last year’s AL Rookie of the Year award. Seattle gets the 29th pick in next year’s draft, which is a big deal.
Are the Brewers ready to take a chance on Frelick, ranked 46th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline? He went from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A last season and recorded a .943 OPS in 217 plate appearances in Nashville.
Would the Brewers consider shutting down Freddy Peralta to keep Devin Williams in the eighth inning? Consolidate the two roles and help reduce Freddy’s workload for his health.
I appreciate the bold thinking but I don’t like the idea, and not because Peralta’s use as a late-inning high-leverage reliever blew up in the Brewers’ face in the 2022 Home Finals. With his off-speed pitching development in recent years (largely under the tutelage of former Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva), Peralta has the arsenal to be a starter. He is much more valuable to the team in this role.