The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers season is over. As President of Baseball Operations David Stearns said, they had a successful year, but everyone is disappointed in how it ended.
He also said something else important. “Getting to the postseason is not easy”. The Brewers have now done that for four straight seasons. David held his yearly end of season press conference today, and some things for next season might have already be revealed.
What we do know is that the Brewers have young talent, depth for their starting rotation and possibly the most team control that this roster has ever had in recent years. Stearns mentioned that in 2018 their core group was under contract, but not as young as they are now. Those are all good signs for the Brewers.
But some important things were brought up at this year’s presser. Some were in passing, and some were pretty obvious. Here are four quick things mentioned while David Stearns spoke.
1. Christian Yelich is a Priority
David Stearns took a lot of questions about Yelich, and rightfully so. Stearns was honest and agreed with the reporters and questions about his season. It wasn’t great, his increase in ground balls and sudden loss of power were all mentioned. It appears that one of the Brewers’ main priorities this off-season will be to fix Yelich. While mentioning that it might be impossible to reach the 2018-2019 performances again, Stearns said they will be working on it.
Andy Haines was also brought up. After their offensive performance in the NLDS, Haines might be out of a job. David said they would be looking at coaching within the next few weeks and make some decisions. He didn’t confirm there wouldn’t be changes though. Even though the players are huge fans of him, Andy Haines will most likely be out the door. The question is, who can they find to replace him and help their power hitters get back to form?
One thing is for certain: the Brewers know that Yelich needs to be better next year. His contract really kicks in next season, and that he needs to be a franchise and All-Star player for at least the next seven to 10 years.
2. Keston Hiura In The Outfield
That’s right, Hiura might be getting a chance in the outfield next year. After spending almost the entire season in Triple-A, Keston will be heading into the 2022 Spring Training without a true lock at a position. Kolten Wong will be the everyday second baseman. Rowdy Tellez and Daniel Vogelbach will be at first, and have years of control unless one is traded.
That means if Hiura finds his bat again, he will need a position to play. Stearns definitely hinted that Avi Garcia will probably not be back next year. Garcia has a player option, and after a great season will most likely select free agency. With a lot of money already tied-up in the outfield, Garcia will probably be too pricey for Milwaukee. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tyrone Taylor will most likely compete for Right Field, so why not throw in Hiura as well.
Again, if Hiura can hit the ball, he could definitely platoon with Taylor in right field if JBJ continues to struggle at the plate. JBJ also has a player option for next year, and will probably select it. It will cost the Brewers $12MM, and will be hard to sign another talented outfielder in the offseason. You can’t have four outfielders making double-digit million-dollar deals on small market teams unless they are all producing. Hiura could be an additional outfielder for depth with the infield almost locked.
3. Luis Urias at Third Base
Speaking of the infield being locked, the Brewers might have their infield already figured out. While struggling at times at shortstop and committing a few too many errors, Luis shined at third base. His year and playoff series proved that.
Urias ended the 2021 season with a .249 batting average, 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. His defensive play over at third was spectacular, and having Willy Adames next to him and mentoring him this year did wonders for the 24-year-old.
As much as Brewers fans would like Milwaukee to re-sign Eduardo Escobar or sign someone like Kris Bryant to play third and cement a power hitter, Urias might be their answer. The Brewers should definitely try to get a power-hitting infielder this offseason to improve their offense. It’s the practical thing to do, but not usual the Brewers way.
But, it appears the confidence with Urias is growing. He is still a very young player, and has the potential to be an All-Star. Hitting 23 home runs when he only hit two in 2018 and four in 2019 is huge. In 2020 he hit zero. Luis definitely has a shot to be the starting third baseman next year. It would be an easy and cheap solution with CBA rumors and team salary issues heading into 2022.
4. David Stearns Staying in Milwaukee
The team’s President of Baseball Operations is currently under contract for two more seasons. The 2022 season, and then a team option.
So, potentially two years of control on his deal with the hopes of extending him.
— Dan Plocher (@DanPlocher) October 14, 2021
When reporters brought up the question of teams approaching him, Stearns quickly shut it down. With at least two years left, owner Mark Attanasio can basically decline interview requests for the next few years. And why wouldn’t he? Stearns has turned around the Milwaukee Brewers franchise since arriving. Five years ago, no one knew when the Brewers would be good again. Cut to this season, where they made their fourth straight postseason appearance and were favorites to win the whole thing before their offense disappeared in the NLDS.
Stearns also mentioned that he and his family love living here and that this is their home. There is no doubt most people would say that in their position, but Stearns seemed to mean it. It appeared genuine, and Brewers fans should sleep happy knowing they have David Stearns for at least two more seasons. The winning formula is here, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere