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Milwaukee Brewers

What will their 2019 budget look like?

The Milwaukee Brewers ended the 2018 season with a payroll over $108 million. Could that number climb even higher in 2019?

The Milwaukee Brewers may rank as a ‘small market’ team, but their overall team payroll has topped $100 million three times in the past five years. They started 2018 at just over $90 million in total player salary, but ended the year well over $100 million after several in-season acquisitions and call ups. How high can they go in 2019? Is there enough for a premium free agent acquisition?

Who’s on the books for 2019?

According to Baseball Reference, the Milwaukee Brewers have seven players locked in at $67.8 million for 2019. They’re also projected to have $49.4 million in arbitration costs for 11 players. They also have six players who are pre-arbitration, and shouldn’t cost more than a few million dollars combined to keep.

Is there any room for cost savings?

Yes, but that depends.

Of the arbitration-eligible players, Jonathan Schoop and Steven Vogt both look like non-tender candidates. Releasing both could save almost $14 million.

Eric Thames is signed for two more seasons and will earn $6 million next year. Chase Anderson is signed for $6.5 million in 2019, and has a pair of affordable club options for 2020 and 2021. Finding a trade partner for both would free up $12.5 million in payroll.

Are there any sunk costs?

Actually, yes. The Milwaukee Brewers will pay Aramis Ramirez $3 million in deferred payments in 2019. It’s the last year of his deferred money. They also still owe Boone Logan $675,000 for 2019.

What kind of payroll could the Brewers end up with?

They’re stuck with $67.8 million for the seven players signed. They’re probably looking at about $35 million for arbitration-eligible players, and about $5 million for pre-arb players. That’s just under $108 million already. If they can deal Anderson and Thames, that would take them down to $96 million, and provide a bit more breathing room for 2019.

The Milwaukee Brewers should look to strengthen, but they’ve never been over the $110 million mark as a franchise. That should change this off season, but a payroll over $125 million to start the season is unlikely.

GM David Stearns has shown he can get the most out of the money that’s available to him. If the Brewers can clear a few contracts, move on from Schoop, and Vogt, and decline the options on Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas, they should have room for one big move.

Next: How does Lorenzo Cain’s 2018 season grade out?

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Whether they make a play for Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin remains to be seen, but there should be enough capital available to try for one. Stearns is also likely to make smaller, ‘lottery ticket’-type moves to add depth to the roster. Signing under-the-radar names like Wade Miley and scouring the waiver wire for values has put this team in the position its in.

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