The 2023 season was a slight step back for Adames at the plate but he continued to excel on defense. He hit 24 home runs last year, a bit below the 25 he hit in 2021 and the 31 in 2022. His .217 batting average was also the lowest of his career. He made up for that somewhat by having a career-best walk rate of 11.1% but his overall offense was still below average, leading to a wRC+ of 94.
But on the other side of his game, Adames produced 16 Outs Above Average, second only to Dansby Swanson among all big league shortstops. His 5.9 Ultimate Zone Rating was also tied for second in the majors among shortstops, behind Francisco Lindor in this case, while his eight Defensive Runs Saved put him in the top 10. FanGraphs considered him to be worth 3.4 wins above replacement on the year even with that slightly disappointing offense.
This is the third arbitration season for Adames, who made $4.6MM in 2022 and then $8.7MM last year. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Adames for a raise to $12.4MM in 2024 and he will come in just a shade beneath that.
Adames has been a speculative trade candidate this winter, a reflection of his talent, his escalating salary and the fact that he is now one year removed from free agency. The Brewers have occasionally made trades of notable players before they reach the open market, with Josh Hader as the most famous example. As of a few months ago, the club was set to have Adames, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff all playing their final arbitration seasons on eight-figure deals in 2024. But Woodruff required shoulder surgery that is going to have him miss most or all of the upcoming season, which led to his non-tender.
There have still plenty of rumors this winter, moreso about Burnes than about Adames. If the club were to consider trading their shortstop, it would be a tricky balancing act with the weak crop of free agents for the position. On the one hand, they would surely get aggressive offers since he is far better than anyone on the open market. But on the other hand, they wouldn’t be able to easily replace him by signing a free agent.
At this point, given the lack of meaningful rumors, it seems as though Adames may stick with the club into the 2024 campaign. If they remain in contention as planned, he should be able to stick as their primary shortstop through the season, when he will be a qualifying offer candidate. Though if the club were to fall out of the playoff race, he should be one of the top trade candidates available at the July trade deadline.