2012 Contract Issues: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Prince Fielder may have to share the free agent spotlight with Albert Pujols, C.C. Sabathia, and Jose Reyes.  But Fielder, a 27-year-old Scott Boras client, brings an elite bat to the open market.  Boras has to be targeting Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180MM deal, if not more.  The Brewers are not expected to be in the mix.
  • LaTroy Hawkins had shoulder surgery in August of last year, but he's been decent so far in a limited sample.  Sergio Mitre has a similar line involving a low ERA, a low strikeout rate, and a good amount of groundballs.    
  • Hamstring and oblique injuries should keep Takashi Saito out until June or so; he's only tossed two innings for the Brewers so far.  42 in February, DL stays are the norm for Saito but he's still good when healthy.
  • Bench players Craig Counsell and Mark Kotsay are eligible for free agency as well.

Contract Options (1)

  • Yuniesky Betancourt: $6MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  Brewers manager Ron Roenicke seems to be a fan of Betancourt's offense and defense, but the Royals won't be picking up $2MM of his $4MM net price in 2012.  I expect GM Doug Melvin to survey free agent alternatives.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

A few of these players will be cut loose by the non-tender deadline.  McGehee is a notable first-time case; he could get $2MM.  Marcum has been stellar, and a raise to the $8-9MM range is plausible.  I can see about $18MM to retain McGehee, Morgan, Loe, Parra, Marcum, and Gomez.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Brewers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $58.08MM including Betancourt's buyout.  Retaining arbitration eligibles could bring the total to $76MM or so, leaving $8MM to spend aside from minimum salary players if payroll is maintained.  Melvin could have a few million more to work with if players such as Gomez and Parra are non-tendered or traded.  The 2010 payroll was $90MM; going back to that level or higher would create another $6MM+ to use.  Melvin will have some room to acquire a shortstop, first baseman, and a reliever or two, but it'd be surprising to see him in on any of the big names.