Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated roster and payroll projections.

                   With the Winter Meetings coming up next week and after a couple of minor to moderate deals the Brewers have made recently, I decided now would be a good time to update the my projected 25-man roster.  You can find the original here.  Since I wrote that, the non-tender deadline has passed.  As you'll remember Burke Badenhop was traded so the only arb-eligible players left were Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco.  Both were tendered contracts, the total sums of which are to be determined but it's estimated the two combined will cost around $5 million.  In much bigger news, the Brewers recently traded Nori Aoki for LHP Will Smith.  I think that leaves the Brewers with only 2 spots left to fill.  One of those spots should be filled by Corey Hart.  I recently estimated his contract to be around $6 million plus incentives.  Here's where I see the roster now:

C: Jonathan Lucroy ($2 MM)
BN: Martin Maldonado ($500 k)
1B: Corey Hart ($6 MM)
BN: Juan Francisco ($1.4 MM)
2B: Scooter Gennett ($500 k)
BN: Rickie Weeks ($11 MM)
3B: Aramis Ramirez ($10 MM)
BN: Jeff Bianchi ($500 k)
SS: Jean Segura ($500 k)

LF: Khris Davis ($500 k)

CF: Carlos Gomez ($7 MM)
OF: Logan Schafer ($500 k)
RF: Ryan Braun ($12.5 MM)

SP: Kyle Lohse ($11 MM)
RP: Jim Henderson ($500 k)
SP: Yovani Gallardo ($11.5 MM)
RP: Brandon Kintzler ($500 k)
SP: Wily Peralta ($500 K)
RP: Tom Gorzelanny ($2.8 MM)
SP: Marco Estrada ($3.5 MM)
RP: Rob Wooten ($500 k)
SP: Tyler Thornburg ($500 k)
RP: Donovan Hand ($500 k)

RP: Will Smith ($500k)
RP: Free Agent

                   With one roster spot open in the bullpen, I estimate the payroll to be approximately $86.2 million.  That's only $1.2 million more than last year.  It's here I'll remind you that every club is receiving an additional $25 million from Nat'l TV deals.  Don't expect them to use all of that money on the payroll.  They have other things to spend on like the First Year Player Draft, international signings, ballpark improvements, scouting system, etc.  Even then, they should have at least another $5 million left to spend.
                    The Brewers will have several decent or better internal options to fill that last roster spot, but I discussed depth here and I believe it's actually in their best interest to sign a free agent.  The Brewers are reported to be looking for a reliever with closing experience and for better or worse, as you can see by my payroll estimate, they'll have plenty of money to spend.  Though, I'm not advocating spending $10 million on a "proven closer."  Closers aren't things.  I've already discussed what I might do with bullpen here.  I still believe there is an outside chance they buy another starter, in which case Thornburg would move to the pen.  It's really slim, and with what's left on the market, I'm heavily leaning towards giving the 5th rotation spot to Thornburg.  The Brewers have stated they'll try Will Smith out of the rotation in Spring Training, but I think he'll have to do a lot to take the spot from Thornburg.  Either way, one of them will likely be in the rotation and the other in the pen.
                      I think it's possible the Brewers could trade one or more of Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez, and Rickie Weeks.  The problem with Lohse and Gallardo is finding decent replacements, assuming the plan is to compete.  If the plan were to rebuild then just trade them all and don't worry about it.  It's not though.  They do have several internal options (Smith, Nelson, Hellweg, Fiers, Burgos), but none are as good as either pitcher.  I'm not terribly intrigued by any of the remaining free agents either.  At this point I don't expect either to be traded before the season starts.  They might be on the block by midseason though.
                     The problem with Ramirez and Weeks are their salaries, though I think Ramirez's is less of an obstacle than some believe since $6 million is deferred.  The other problem with Weeks is his performance (or lack thereof) the past two season and to a lesser extent, his hamstring injury.  I will point out that the Yankees are now lacking a second baseman and third baseman (once A-Rod is suspended).  I'm not saying that Ramirez and Weeks are the perfect fit, just that they could be a fit.  I previously mentioned the Yankees as a possible trade partner for Ramirez, but Weeks could make sense too as he can be platooned with Kelly Johnson.  Payroll towards the luxury tax is factored through contract AAV.  So, while Ramirez technically makes $16 million next year, and even though $6 million is deferred, his AAV is $12 million dollars.  Weeks' AAV is just under $10 million.  That's less than what A-Rod or Cano would make individually.  That gives them tons of money to spend while filling two spots reasonably well.  It's the very definition of a longshot, but I think the Brewers would be very open to shedding the payroll.  The main problem is finding a replacement at third.  
                      This year's Winter Meetings should prove to be quite boring.  I honestly don't expect any more trades, but there will be talk.  I do think the Brewers will re-sign Hart before the meetings are over.  Hart is a family man so I imagine the latest would be by Christmas.  If the past is any indication, Melvin will wait before he signs his reliever with closer experience.  This offseason has developed crazy fast though, so I wouldn't be shocked to see all the moves the Brewers make for the rest of it, happen next week.  All two of them.

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