Brewers GM David Stearns talked about the upcoming offseason in the wake of his club’s Wild Card loss, with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel among those to cover the proceedings.
Despite the disappointing end, it was obviously another successful campaign, as the Brewers charged late and again reached the postseason despite losing superstar Christian Yelich. But the club won’t be able to rest on its laurels, as there are a variety of decisions to be made right out of the gates.
As Stearns puts it, he and his front office has “some important questions” that will need to be answered. Every offseason has its own “narrative,” he said, and it’s still not clear what path this one will take.
The first call that has to be made involves corner infielders Eric Thames ($7.5MM club option, $1MM buyout) and Travis Shaw (arbitration eligible). Stearns said he hasn’t reached any decision on Thames, who had a productive season with the bat and seems a reasonable value at that price. As for Shaw, whose season was a disaster, Stearns says the club will “spend a lot of effort internally determining what to do” in advance of the non-tender deadline.
The Shaw situation ties in to the Brewers’ slate of departing free agents, which includes several key players. Infielder Mike Moustakas could replace Shaw, though he’ll likely require a bigger commitment to retain than he commanded on the open market last winter. And then there’s Yasmani Grandal, who had a highly productive year behind the plate and will leave a big hole. Stearns was happy to acknowledge that he’d “love to have both of them back.” Will it happen? “Whether the realities of the market permit that and whether the realities of the free-agent market permit that is something we will have to evaluate as we go through the off-season.”
Likewise, a pair of key hurlers will be available to all teams. Mid-season trade acquisitions Jordan Lyles and Drew Pomeranz. Stearns called the pair “unbelievable” and said he’d be interested in returns in both cases. “They both contributed a lot to this club and I’m sure we’ll be in contact with them,” said Stearns.
There’s no shortage of other roster issues to be addressed. The Brewers’ creative pitching strategies will again be tested. Stearns said he isn’t ready to say precisely how hurlers such as Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brent Suter will be used next year, though he did note that “we tend to blur lines between starters and relievers anyways.” And it certainly sounds as if the Brewers will at least be interested in exploring ways of supplementing (if not supplanting) Orlando Arcia at shortstop. Stearns says the team “need[s] better overall production” from that spot, though he added that he believes Arcia is “a better player than he showed this year” and that the incumbent could still represent the necessary solution.