The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers filled their fan base with excitement and optimism heading into the 2021 MLB Playoffs. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and they were ushered out by the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves (as is the case most years the Brewers make the playoffs).
Looking ahead to 2022, the Brewers are set to bring back the vast majority of impact players from last years team. Avisail Garcia and Eduardo Escobar are the main two free agents not expected to return. With very few holes to fill and the team ready to take the next step, should we expect a splash free agent signing this offseason? History tells us no and the payroll situation may backs that up.
In this article, we will take a look ahead to the 2022 Brewers salaries. This includes veteran contracts as well as arbitration projections.
When Yelich signed his extension, it was thought by many to be a bargain for the Brewers. However, two straight years of struggles at the plate has allowed doubt to creep in. This is important because Yelich takes the biggest jump in salary on the team in 2022.
2021 salary: $14,000,000. 2022 salary: $26,000,000. Change: +$12,000,000
I don’t think there is a Brewer fan out there that dislikes Cain. His charisma, attitude and defensive ability make him an easy fan favorite. With that being said, he may be one of the most over payed players on the team. The former gold glove winning center fielder has battled injuries and as a result has seen his bat fall off in recent years.
2021 salary: $16,000,000. 2022 salary: $17,000,000. Change: + $1,000,000
Jackie Bradley Jr
As expected, JBJ exercised his player option for the 2022 season to stay in Milwaukee. After the season he had in 2021, it seemed like many would not be upset to see him go. Unless a trade is struck, he will return in 2022 with the hopes of getting back to the power/defense combo that he was known for when the Brewers signed him.
2021 salary: $6,500,000. 2022 salary: $9,500,000. Change: +$3,000,000
After being signed away from the rival Cardinals, Wong proved to be a smart signing by Stearns. He fell just short of winning his third consecutive gold glove and was a consistent force at the top of the lineup.
2021 salary: $7,500,000. 2022 salary: $8,500,000. Change: +$1,000,000
Peralta signed a five year, $15 million dollar extension before the 2020. After two years, it is looking like it may be a steal. Him, Burnes and Woodruff look to be a three headed monster that could lead this Brewers rotation for many years to come.
2021 salary: $1,334,960. 2022 salary: $2,484,960. Change: +$1,150,000
Veterans total: 2021 salaries: $45,334,960. 2022 salaries: $63,484,960. Change: +$18,150,000
On veterans alone, the Brewers are increasing payroll by $17,000,000 heading into the 2022 season.
Arbitration Eligible Players
*To keep this from getting to long, the focus in this section will be on the main pieces of the team that Spotrac has estimated 2022 salaries for. Spotrac’s estimates do differ from MLB trade rumors arbitration projections.
2021 salary: $6,675,000. Projected 2022 salary: $8,000,000. Change: +$1,325,000
2021 was Woodruff’s best season to date as he finished fourth in the NL in ERA. At just 28 years old, he appears to just be getting started.
2021 salary: $3,275,000. Projected 2022 salary: $6,000,000. Change: +$2,750,000.
Much like Woodruff, Burnes will be worth whatever he gets in arbitration. Burnes was recently announced as a Cy Young finalist. I would keep an eye on Burnes and Woodruff this offseason as both are great candidates for contract extensions.
2021 salary: $608,000. Projected 2022 salary: $5,000,000. Change: +$4,392,000.
After breaking into the league as a highly touted prospect, Adames disappointed a bit in Tampa Bay before the Brewers traded for him this season. So far, through 99 games, the trade looks like a steal for the Crew. At 25 years old, it looks like the Brewers have their shortstop of the future.
2021 salary- $590,000. Projected 2022 salary: $4,000,000. Change: +$3,410,000.
After a rough 2020, Narvaez rebounded in 2021. He looked more like the offensive presence the Brewers traded for after the 2019 season. Additionally, he came with questions about his defensive ability. However, he has become a plus defender/pitch framer along.
2021 salary: $2,500,000. Projected 2022 salary: $4,000,000. Change: +$1,500,000
Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser
I put these two together because they are both in very similar spots. Both had flashed potential and finally put it together in 2021 to complete a dominant Brewer rotation. They are both due for significant raises.
Lauer: 2021 salary: $570,500. Projected 2022 salary: $2,500,000. Change: +$1,929,500
Houser: 2021 salary: $584,100. Projected 2022 salary: $2,000,000. Change: +$1,415,900
After coming over from San Diego, there was a lot of excitement around Urias. In 2021, he finally looked like the player scouts thought he could be. With third base being a rotating door for the Brewers for years, Urias may finally be the player to fill that role moving forward.
2021 salary: $575,100. Projected 2022 salary: $2,000,000. Change: +$1,424,900
Dan Vogelbach and Rowdy Tellez
Much like third base, first has also been a position without stability for years. At this point in their careers, neither Vogelbach nor Tellez have been every day players. Unfortunately, both are left handers so a conventional platoon isn’t an option. As a result, riding the hot bat will likely be the plan moving forward with a power bat always being available on the bench.
Vogelbach: 2021 salary: $1,400,000. Projected 2022 salary: $2,000,000. Change: +$600,000.
Tellez: 2021 salary: $598,100. Projected 2022 salary: $1,750,000. Change: +$1,151,900.
Arbitration total: 2021 salaries: $20,071,300. Projected 2022 salaries: 40,890,000. Change: +$20,818700.
With so many young players taking a big step forward in 2021, it shouldn’t come as a shock that some will be getting big raises before next season. Even with the raises, some of these players will greatly outperform what they are being paid. For the rest, they are just getting the standard yearly increase in salary as they get closer to vet status.
What does this all mean?
Even before filling the holes left by players leaving following the 2021 season, the Brewers are only $4 million short of the payroll they finished last season with. Mark Attanasio has always said that he will increase the payroll if the right opportunity presents itself. We saw that number expand all the way up to the $142 million mark in 2019 but more often then not, we should expect it to be just above $100 million.
Some have speculated that free agent Nick Castellanos may be on the Brewers radar, which has sparked a lot of excitement. However, expectations should be tempered as a big extension may be difficult to pull off. If a decent amount of money is shelled out for a free agent, it will most likely be for a player at mid-tier payroll status instead of the kind of money it will take to get a superstar outfielder like Castellanos.