The Milwaukee Brewers started the 2012 season with high hopes but ended the year short of expectations. Now the Brewers most go into rebuild mode once again and figure out how to reach the postseason in 2013. The first step of this process is to figure out what arbitration eligible players Milwaukee wants to sign next season.
The following players are arbitration eligible. Listed after their names is their salary projections for the 2013 MLB season:
Closer John Axford ($5.1 million), first baseman Travis Ishikawa ($900,000), starter Chris Narveson ($800,000) and starter/reliever Marco Estrada ($1.6 million) are all first time arbitration eligible. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan ($2.6 million) is second time eligible. Reliever Jose Veras ($2.6 million), starter Manny Parra ($1.6 million) and reliever Kameron Loe ($2.6 million) are third time eligible. And finally, Carlos Gomez ($3.4 million) is fourth time eligible.
Obviously, the Brewers do not plan on retaining every single one of these players, especially after the bullpen’s disastrous season caused Milwaukee’s downfall in 2012. Therefore, it will be management’s job to decide which players are worth bringing back at the right price.
Axford’s $5.1 million salary is a bit expensive for a pitcher with a 5-8 record, 4.67 earned run average and nine blown saves. However, the Brewers desperately need a closer and the fact that Axford still recorded 35 saves is enough for the team to show him the money. Milwaukee also needs starting pitching, which means Narveson and Estrada will also be back in 2013.
Of the three position players that are arbitration eligible, Gomez is the only one that will return next year. Morgan was given a great opportunity to make a difference for the Brewers as a starter, but unfortunately he was unable to collect enough hits and was eventually benched in favor of Norichika Aoki.
Ishikawa showed plenty of potential in a pinch-hit role and as a first baseman when he filled in for the injured Mat Gamel. However, with Corey Hart named the starter at first base for next season and Gamel as the backup, there is no reason to retain Ishikawa.
Gomez has been named the center fielder for next year after his breakout 2012 season in which he batted .260 with a career-high 19 home runs, 51 runs batted in, 19 doubles, four triples, and a career-high 37 stolen bases. Milwaukee has every reason to bring him back as it looks like he finally will reach the potential numerous executives saw in him when he first came to the majors.
This means the Brewers will spend a projected $10.2 million to retain Axford, Estrada, Gomez and Narveson for the 2013 season.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.