Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially the Christmas season. (Not that I waited this long to start listening to Christmas music or set up the Christmas tree in my apartment.) My wish list this season isn’t addressed to Santa Claus or the North Pole, though. Rather, it’s for Matt Arnold and Mark Attanasio. Here are my top four Christmas wishes for the Brewers:
4) Another Catcher
The Brewers currently carry 4 catchers on the 40-man roster. However, none of them seem an ideal candidate for an everyday starting catcher. With the current setup, the best-case scenario is a platoon of Victor Caratini and Mario Feliciano splitting the daily duties.
If they’re going to target a big name, the top of my list on the free agent market is Christian Vázquez. Vázquez is a hot commodity on the free agent market this offseason, meaning the Brewers will probably get outpriced. However, if the team could spring for him, Vázquez could be a difference-maker next season.
Tucker Barnhart could be a more reasonable acquisition for Milwaukee. He’ll fetch a more reasonable price than Vázquez as his numbers dropped last year. It would be a risk for the Brewers to sign him and hope that he can bounce back in his 32-year-old season, but one that I could see the Brewers taking if the price is right.
3) Bring Back Ryan Braun
Braun is officially retired from baseball, so I don’t mean bringing him back as a DH (though we could use the offensive consistency he was known for). Maybe it’s blind adoration for the star I grew up watching, but I would love to see Braun rejoin the team as a hitting coach. Logically, there are a few reasons that that’s probably not a great idea. However, with the tandem hitting coach strategy the Brewers have taken, Milwaukee could be the perfect place for Braun to gain some coaching experience while working alongside a veteran coach.
Braun has stayed committed to Milwaukee and the team since his retirement from playing and the Brewers have brought back Jonathan Lucroy after his retirement, so it’s not unprecedented. Granted, performance on the field doesn’t automatically correlate to coaching ability. However, I’d love to see the Brewers bring a clubhouse staple and fan-favorite back into the fold.
2) Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes Extensions
Next up on my Christmas list is a pair of contract extensions. Ideally, the Brewers have been clearing up the payroll (ex. Trading Hunter Renfroe) for a good reason, not to pocket it— to pay someone else. Former Cy Young Corbin Burnes and All-Star ace Brandon Woodruff are prime candidates as it’s definitely going to take some serious commitment from Milwaukee to keep them here.
Currently, Burnes’ contract keeps him in Milwaukee through 2024. Woodruff’s contract also lasts through that season. Pitching has been the Brewers’ wow factor and the major reason they’ve made the postseason so consistently in the last few years. Extending Woodruff and Burnes is synonymous with extending the Brewers’ competitive window.
The Brewers have younger pitchers, Freddy Peralta and Aaron Ashby, locked up for longer. Does that show devotion to bolstering the pitching staff, which would bode well for Burnes and Woodruff’s extensions? Or does it show that the Brewers are preparing to move on when the price tag skyrockets? I’m not particularly optimistic, but in the spirit of Christmas, anything can happen.
1) More Financial Commitment from Ownership… or New Ownership
Finally, what I want most of all for Christmas is for Milwaukee to have a fighting chance against larger market teams. None of the above items are possible without the ownership forking up some serious cash. Money has been a huge issue for the Crew for a long time— this isn’t a new issue and it probably won’t go away any time soon. However, almost anything has to be a step up from Andrew McCutchen’s singing being considered a bank-breaker. Like it or not, Milwaukee is a small market. We’ll never go head-to-head with Los Angeles for payroll. However, it would be nice to have a fighting chance against teams like them to sign free agents or extend our homegrown talent. If Mark Attanasio can’t make that commitment, I hope he finally decides to sell the team to someone who will.
Maybe I’m a tad too old to be hoping for Christmas magic, but it sure seems like the Crew could use some this holiday season. Odds are, all I find in my stocking is news of another free-agent outfielder signing. However, there’s no time like the holidays for Arnold and Attanasio to grant some wishes.
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