Five questions for Milwaukee brewers as the new year approaches

The Milwaukee Brewers had much to be happy about in 2021. The team won the NL Central Division, made the playoffs for a fourth straight season, a franchise record, produced their first Cy Young Award winner since 1982 and again finished in the top ten. in attendance, despite limited capacity at American Family Field for much of the season.

As the schedule moves to 2022, the focus is on a new season and the chance to not only extend that streak of playoff appearances, but instead, finally move on to the World Series for the first time in 1982.

Of course, the bigger question is whether there will even be a season in 2022. As the year draws to a close, there does not appear to be an end in sight to the deadlock between the owners. from the MLB and the Players’ Association.

In the meantime, here are five questions brewers will be looking to answer in the New Year:

Can Christian Yelich turn the tide?

Nothing seemed to be going well last season for Yelich, who hit .248 / .362 / .373 with just nine home runs, 51 RBIs and a worst .736 OPS in 117 games.

Yelich, along with manager Craig Counsell and president of baseball operations David Stearns, dismissed the idea that his problems stemmed from a back injury that sidelined him for a month at the start of the season.

Whatever the reason for Yelich’s struggles, getting him back on track in 2022 will be the most urgent task to hit coaches Connor Dawson and Ozzie Timmons, who have been hired to replace Andy Haines after the season.

Yelich is expected to earn $ 26 million in 2022 as part of the nine-year, $ 215 million contract extension he signed before the pandemic began.

What’s next for Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff?

Days before Yelich signed his massive deal, the Brewers struck a deal with Freddy Peralta on a five-year, $ 15 million extension that could be one of baseball’s best bargains after the right-hander went 10- 5 with a last season ERA of 2.81.

He, along with right-hangers Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, gave the Brewers one of the best starting spins in all of baseball last season, with Burnes ultimately becoming the Brewers’ first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award since 1982.

Burnes is expected to earn around $ 4 million next season after being submitted to arbitration for the first time, while Woodruff is eligible for arbitration for the second time and is expected to earn around $ 7 million in 2022.

There’s still a long time to go before you have to worry about losing either of the pitchers to the free market, but there’s no doubt the Brewers would love nothing more than to keep their three stars. local communities for years to come.

This, however, will not be cheap, they are very unlikely to be able to strike a deal as inexpensively as with Peralta.

Hader: should he stay or should he go?

Josh Hader has been ridiculously good since entering the majors in 2018.

In an ordinary world, keeping Hader for another season would be a no-brainer, but with an estimated salary of $ 10 million next season, will the Brewers have room in the payroll to keep him?

Granted, the Brewers don’t have to move Hader, who still has one season of officiating eligibility and doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season. It also means his value might never be higher, he So it stands to reason that Stearns’ phone will turn on with interest when and if the lockdown moratorium ends.

Milwaukee are very proud of their recent ability to develop pitchers, especially relievers, and have a potential successor in place if Hader is transferred to Devin Williams, but the same reasons Hader is an attractive play to other teams are the same reasons the Brewers are leaving. in 2022 with legitimate World Series aspirations.

Who is the first ?

During his annual end-of-season press conference, Stearns has repeatedly pointed out that the Brewers have a core in place.

The only place without a definitive starter before spring training is first base, where for now Rowdy Tellez has the opportunity to back him up and serve as Keston Hiura’s right / left-handed squad.

But while the Brewers don’t have specific positioning needs, per se there is a desire and need to add some offensive pop and the most logical place to do so is at first base.

Payroll considerations will likely prevent the Brewers from participating in the auction for top free agents like Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman or Anthony Rizzo. Oakland is reportedly in the process of buying first baseman Matt Olson, who has two more seasons of team control, although finding a set of prospects and talent that works is always easier said than done.

Keep Keston

Speaking of first base …

Milwaukee had hoped Keston Hiura would be the team’s long-term fix in this position after the former first-round pick dropped from second place to welcome Kolten Wong when he signed a two-year contract with the last winter.

The decision was unsuccessful as Hiura went 0 for 19 with 10 strikeouts to start the season and never recovered. He has been demoted to Triple-A Nashville four times while appearing in 61 games for the Brewers, finishing with a .168 average, four homers, 19 RBIs and a .557 OPS while striking out a once average. every 2.6 home plate appearances. .

Despite these struggles, the Brewers are unlikely to give up on Hiura. He’s too good of an offensive talent when he’s right and is only 25 years old. Defense has never been his strong suit and although Stearns has suggested after the season that the team plan to give Hiura some action in first, second and outfield next spring, the ideal solution would be to use as designated hitter should this happen. the National League in the new collective agreement.

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