Having committed $18.25 million on a one-year deal to free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal on Wednesday evening, the Milwaukee Brewers will begin sorting out some of the other salaries on their roster as the deadline approaches Friday for exchanging figures with arbitration-eligible players.
Entering Thursday, the Brewers had six remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players: third baseman Travis Shaw, relievers Corey Knebel and Alex Claudio, right-handers Zach Davies and Junior Guerra, and catcher Manny Piña.
Arbitration players not signed by the Friday deadline will exchange figures in preparation for a hearing in February before a panel that would pick one salary or the other. The sides are allowed to continue negotiating before those hearings but most teams, including the Brewers, have adopted “file and trial” positions.
The Brewers originally had 13 players eligible for arbitration at the outset of the off-season but did not tender contracts to Jonathan Schoop, Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeño, and traded Domingo Santana. They previously reached deals with Jimmy Nelson ($3.7 million), Hernán Pérez ($2.5 million), Erik Kratz ($1.2 million, with only $300,000 guaranteed) and Tyler Saladino ($887,500).
Shaw will receive by far the biggest salary bump in his first year of arbitration. He made close to the minimum last season with a $567,400 salary and is projected to approach a $5 million salary after slugging 63 home runs with 187 RBI and .844 OPS the past two seasons with the Brewers.
Guerra, Davies, Piña and Claudio, acquired via trade with Texas in December, also are in their first year of arbitration and therefore can expect nice bumps in salary. Guerra and Davies are expected to exceed $2 million in salaries and Piña likely will approach that level.
Knebel is in his second year of arbitration after making $3.65 million in 2018, when he was a “Super 2” player (ranked in the top 22% of players with between two and three years of major-league service). He is expected to approach a $5 million salary for this year.
You can expect some if not all of these players to sign before the Friday deadline to avoid arbitration hearings, so check back throughout the day for any developments.
The Brewers’ highest opening-day payroll ever was $104 million in 2015. After stripping down their roster in a major rebuilding program, they dipped into the $60 million range for a couple of years before opening at $91 million last season.
The Grandal signing should push them far above that 2015 level, depending on any adjustments they make on their roster, such as trades.