On Friday, the Brewers released a video of chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio discussing a wide variety of topics pertaining to the club’s upcoming offseason with broadcaster Brian Anderson via fan-submitted questions. Among Attanasio’s more interesting answers was his response to a question about which minor leaguers he expected to appear in Milwaukee in 2023, to which he stated that the Brewers “might be very active this winter, and depending on which direction we [the Brewers] are active may create openings for guys” (h/t to Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Attanasio is most likely referring to which positional area Milwaukee decides to address, as opposed to whether or not they will make moves to try and remain competitive. Nonetheless, Attanasio’s quote will not inspire confidence in Brewers fans who are hungry to see Milwaukee make major additions in the offseason. In a year in which a competitive Brewers team traded away Josh Hader, only to finish one game out of the final postseason spot, some of the questions submitted by fans seemed to reflect a concern regarding the front office’s commitment to winning. In fairness, the Brewers made the playoffs in four of the last five seasons and have built what has become a perennial division contender on a payroll that has consistently ranked well below the league median. The most important question for Milwaukee does not appear to be whether or not the front office is committed to putting a winning team on the field, but rather whether their core group of players, the same ones that are taking up most of the payroll, are capable of delivering another deep postseason run.
Roster Resource projects the club for a 2023 payroll of $118MM, which is already fairly high for them. The club set a franchise record in 2022 with an Opening Day payroll of $132MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The Brew Crew enters this offseason with a lot of question marks as to who will fill out their starting lineup. Milwaukee can create some payroll wiggle room by declining Kolten Wong’s $10MM option and non-tendering Hunter Renfroe (who MLBTR projects to make $11.2MM in 2023), but would then be faced with holes in two outfield spots, as well as at second base. Brice Turang and Garrett Mitchell could plug in for the Brewers if Wong and Renfroe depart, but that would put a lot of the burden of offensive success on young players who have yet to establish themselves in the big leagues. There are some lower-cost free agent outfielders that might entice the Brewers, but the market for second basemen is pretty thin. As such, it’s difficult to envision Milwaukee making a major improvement over what they already have, considering their financial restrictions and reluctance for parting with prospects.
Attanasio expressed confidence in the core group of players that have led the Brewers over the last few years, noting that he feels like the club is “really well set up for next year.” The success or failure of said core will likely determine whether or not Milwaukee gets back to the playoffs. Fortunately, there’s no reason to think that the trio of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta won’t continue to baffle hitters. That being said, if the 2023 Brewers are going to score runs to support their pitching staff, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez will have at least replicate their production from last season, and Christian Yelich will have to look more like he did in 2018-2019. If Milwaukee truly is active this winter, they may have to get creative in how they make improvements to their roster.