According to recent reports and actions so far this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers are open for business this season. Everyone could available at a price, so it’s likely the Dodgers and other contenders are bound to make some calls to Milwaukee’s front office.
Rather than pay Mark Canha $2 million to buyout his club option for 2024, the Brewers traded him to the Tigers, who exercised the option. Manager Craig Counsell left Milwaukee to join the rival Cubs for a $40 million contract, and said during his introductory press conference that having more resources was a factor in his decision.
No. 2 starter Brandon Woodruff is likely out for the season after shoulder surgery. Ace Corbin Burnes, who was nickel-and-dimed last offseason in arbitration over a paltry amount, will be a free agent after 2024, as will shortstop Willy Adames.
The Brewers are always walking the thin line of retooling for the future, all while contending, always keeping a limited payroll.
With that in mind, it is worthwhile to look through this division-winning roster from last season and try to figure out who would be the ideal targets to improve the Dodgers.
At first thought, it sounds a little out there that the Brew Crew would move Burnes, and as things stand right now, it isn’t exactly likely. However, the more one thinks about it, the more one sees the merits of it, on both sides.
For starters, Burnes is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, and there is already a history of bad blood there from past arbitration hearings, as mentioned above.
Furthermore, even with Woodruff out for 2024, and his status as a Brewer in question, Milwaukee does have in Freddy Peralta, an arm capable of taking over the ace status of the staff.
Looking at the fit the Dodgers present, one of the things this organization did really well last season, was showcase its organizational pitching depth, with a plethora of exciting options coming up and holding their own.
It’s obvious that Burnes would warrant a significant offer, even with just one season of control. However, despite all the talent this staff has, Burnes might just be the man to come in for the No. 1 role and take the pressure away from Walker Buehler in his first year back from his second Tommy John surgery.
In terms of pure fit, there aren’t that many better options out there for the Dodgers than Burnes, if Milwaukee truly decides to shop him.
The Dodgers are all too familiar with the Yelich situation, having gone through something eerily similar with Cody Bellinger. And wouldn’t you know, in a healthy 2023, Yelich also bounced back significantly, if not quite to his MVP ways, still, to a very respectable 124 OPS+, on a 3.6 WAR season.
Part of Milwaukee’s willingness to listen to offers on its impact players is to trim the payroll also, and what better way to do that than to shop their most expensive asset?
Yelich is still owed $26 million per year across the next five seasons, with a mutual option and $6.5 MM buyout for 2029.
It stands to reason that Milwaukee would eat a significant chunk of it to capitalize on Yelich’s 2023 campaign to move him. Just how much money is probably the determining factor in whether talks move forward or not.
Yelich has a no-trade clause. But it’s not a crazy assumption to think he’d have no trouble waiving it for the former Westlake High School star to move closer to home and play for the Dodgers.
To further help his case, Yelich still rates pretty well defensively, coming in with an Outs Above Average in the 84th percentile last season.
Woodruff, who was scheduled to hit the market at the end of 2024, would’ve been a prime trade candidate. Now Milwaukee has two options, either non-tender him presently or the likely one, of offering him a two-year deal, hoping he can regain value in 2025.
Peralta is virtually untouchable with his extremely team-friendly extension, and any other starters that Milwaukee has, the Dodgers won’t pursue.
Devin Williams is a name that makes sense, but based on everything this administration has done, it’s very difficult to imagine them forking up prospects for a reliever in the offseason. Even if the price isn’t totally unreasonable based on market value.
The Dodgers have shown interest in Adames before, but with Gavin Lux set to return there might not be a fit.
Hitting-wise, there’s a reason why Milwaukee ranked 15th out of 15 teams in the National League in total bases. William Contreras is their only other exciting hitter, and he’s a catcher who is not yet even arbitration-eligible. So that’s a no-go.