With the non-tender deadline looming tomorrow, there’s a “strong possibility” the Brewers will non-tender infielder Jonathan Schoop, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). A trade route is also possible, per the report; the takeaway, regardless, is that the Milwaukee organization seems to be preparing to move on.
That’d be a tough pill to swallow, given that the Brewers acquired Schoop just last summer in anticipation of a turnaround. That did not come to pass late in 2018, and evidently the organization isn’t all that optimistic that the bounce back will occur in the season to come. Or, at least, it’s not willing to pay what it’ll take to find out.
[RELATED: Projecting Payrolls: Milwaukee Brewers]
In his final season of arbitration eligibility, MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz project, Schoop will take down something on the order of $10.1MM. That’s an easy payday to commit to for the 2017 version of Schoop. He slashed a robust .293/.338/.503 with 32 long balls and turned in solid defensive work, making him a comfortably above-average regular.
Last year, though, the bottom dropped out. While he continued his solid glovework, and even showed that he can handle shortstop, Schoop’s bat fell apart. He still had good power, but ended the season with only a .233/.266/.416 slash.
The difference on the stat sheet primarily comes down to quality of contact. Schoop’s batting average on balls in play plummeted from .330 in 2017 to .261 last year. Since he rarely walk, that devastated his on-base percentage. And it’s hard to chalk it up to bad luck, as Statcast actually suggests he enjoyed good fortune (.290 wOBA vs. .266 xwOBA).
If the Brewers do indeed pull the plug, it’ll reflect not only their feelings about Schoop, but also of the remainder of the market. The organization may anticipate better opportunities to improve its infield mix; after all, at second base especially, there are numerous open-market and trade options. With other needs to address as well, and perhaps not a lot of available money to work with, there certainly could be an opportunity for the Brewers to add a solid second base asset at a lower price — or even to pursue other, more creative roster tweaks.