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)
- First time: Casey McGehee, Nyjer Morgan, Mitch Stetter
- Second time: Kameron Loe, Manny Parra
- Third time: Shaun Marcum, Carlos Gomez, Sean Green, Wil Nieves
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.