The 2023 MLB season saw the Brewers finish first by a solid margin in the NL Central, with the team returning to the postseason for the 5th time in the last 6 seasons. Even with that happening, the offense was not great, with only 4 players finishing with an above average OPS+ (100 being league average.) Leading that pack is William Contreras (126 OPS+) and he is joined by Christian Yelich (124), Carlos Santana (109), and Mark Canha (120). On the pitching side, Corbin Burnes was also per usual, very good, although maybe not to previous career levels. The team received good starting pitching performances from expected rotation members such as Freddy Peralta and Wade Miley, and also from not as expected members including Julio Teheran, Colin Rea and Adrian Houser. With that being said, Brandon Woodruff was sorely missed, and it appears he will continue to be missed for most of, if not all of the 2024 season.
This offseason figures to be somewhat transformative, with manager Craig Counsell possibly departing. Even more compounded by Woodruff’s injury, the team will need to find quality arms to start games for the 2024 season. Behind Corbin Burnes, the Brewers have Freddy Peralta and Adrian Houser, and after that it looks pretty bleak. Along with the starting pitching, bats figure to be a need, with the 2023 team finishing 23rd in the MLB in average OPS. With that all being said, I have compiled an article which will hopefully help guide you through the 2024 offseason. It includes dates and deadlines, along with explanations to make it all make sense. I hope you enjoy!
To view the current Brewers 40-man roster, view our roster page, updated nightly.
2024 Offseason Timeline (detailed explanations following list of dates)
October 27-November 4: World Series
5 Days After Conclusion of World Series: League Wide Free Agency Begins (Player/Team/Mutual Options Due, Qualifying Offers also due)
November 7-9: General Manager Meetings
November 15: Rule 5 Protection Deadline, Qualifying Offer Decision Deadline
November 17: Non-Tender Deadline
December 3-6: Winter Meetings
December 5: MLB Draft Lottery
December 6: Rule 5 Draft
January 2024: BBWAA Hall of Fame Announcement
January 12: Arbitration Agreement Deadline
January 13-14: Winter Warm Up (formerly Brewers On Deck)
January 29-February 16: Arbitration Hearings
February 14: Pitchers and Catchers Report
February 25: First Spring Training Game vs. Rockies
March 28: Opening Day at New York Mets
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The AL Champion Rangers will play the NL Champion Diamondbacks in a seven-game series. When this series is over, the 2024 MLB offseason officially starts. World Series Game 1 is scheduled for October 27, whereas Game 7 is scheduled for November 4 (If necessary.) After the World Series concludes, there is a five-day window where many decisions (Options, Qualifying Offers) must be made before league-wide free agency begins.
Like Qualifying Offers, contractual options must be decided on within five days of the conclusion of the World Series. These options are typically built into the contract when the player signs them. A player option signifies the player's choice to choose whether they would like to exercise the option. If it is a team option, the team can choose if they want to exercise it. On a mutual option, both the team and the player’s side must choose to exercise it. Otherwise, the player becomes a free agent. Often, mutual options do not happen due to the rarity of each side exercising the option. This offseason, there are 4 options within the organization for the Brewers and the players to decide on. The 4 players are Wade Miley, Andrew Chafin, Justin Wilson, and Mark Canha. Wade Miley had a strong season posting a 3.14 ERA in 120.1 innings, even if some underlying metrics don’t fully back that up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him decline his end of a $10 Million mutual option to re-enter free agency at what is likely his last chance to get a solid deal, maybe 2 years or a slightly inflated 1 year deal. Andrew Chafin was not very good after being traded from the Diamondbacks, posting a 5.82 ERA in 17 innings as a Brewer. That makes it an easy decision for the team to decline their $7.25 Million option in favor of a $725K buyout. Another player they just traded for that has an option is Mark Canha. He has a $11.5 Million team option that contains a $2 Million buyout. I could see the Brewers picking up the option, and trading him like they did with Hunter Renfroe last winter. However, I don't see him playing for the Brewers in 2024 due to the salary and other outfield options already on the roster, although it isn’t impossible. Lastly, the Brewers will likely decline Justin Wilson’s $2.5 Million Team option and pay him a $150K buyout. He did not pitch an inning for the Brewers in 2023, and he is getting older, so they will likely say goodbye.
Like options, Qualifying Offers must be made within five days after the World Series ends. The Qualifying Offer's value typically increases yearly, as it is the average of the top 125 paid MLB players of the previous season. This year, the qualifying offer is slated to be just over $20 million. Out of the Brewers 6 departing free agents, none are worth a qualifying offer, and as a result, will not receive one. Hypothetically, if the Brewers were to make a Qualifying Offer to any of their free agents, they would receive draft pick compensation related to how big the contract that was signed if the player signed with another team. If the contract signed was over $50 Million, they would receive a compensatory pick after the 1st round of the draft. If it was under $50 Million, they would receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B (After 2nd round). Alternatively, if the Brewers decided they want to sign a player who received a Qualifying Offer, they would have to forfeit their 3rd highest pick, as the Brewers qualify for the Revenue-Sharing program, which simply put just means they are a smaller market team within the MLB.
Free agency technically begins the day after the World Series ends. However, during the five days mentioned, the only conversations that can be had are between the free agents and the team they are departing. The Brewers have six free agents this year (Donaldson, Winker, Santana, Ruf, Caratini, Rea), with the potential to have multiple more through contractual options which are explained above. Naturally, there will be free agents that the Brew Crew will want to return, and will keep in contact for a possible contract, and other departing free agents they will let walk. League-wide free agency starts after those five days are over. This could occur as soon as November 5 or as late as November 9, depending on when the World Series wraps up. This is the free agency that the average fan would think of, where any team can contact any player about a possible deal. Most players will sign with a team before Spring Training begins, but it has happened in the past where players have started the season as free agents and signed with teams at the midway point (See Dallas Keuchel 2019 with the Braves.) Free agency continues throughout the offseason and into the regular season, as it never really stops, it typically just becomes more and more picked over.
General Manager Meetings
These are typically pretty uneventful for the fans. The General Managers from all 30 MLB Teams meet and discuss possible off-season plans. Here is where some frameworks for offseason trades begin to be talked about. Teams can explore possible paths for their offseason before it gets into full swing.
Rule 5 Protection
The Rule 5 Draft is an event that occurs every winter (excluding 2020) as a chance for teams to scout and find possible players who have yet to be given a chance in other organizations. The Rule 5 Draft rules state that teams must protect players who signed at age 18 or younger within five seasons and players who signed at age 19 or older within four seasons. Teams protect players by adding them to their 40-man roster, which can be more difficult in some years due to roster crunches. Players who are not protected by being added to the 40-man roster can be chosen by other organizations during the Rule 5 Draft on December 6 for a $100k fee. Players selected must be kept on the MLB active roster for the whole season or the MLB Injured List when it returns during spring training. Otherwise, if they are designated for assignment and clear waivers, they must be offered back to their original team for $50k. This offseason, there are three Brewers top 30 prospects (via MLB Pipeline) that must be added to the 40 man roster, or otherwise will be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft. These prospects include Jeferson Quero (#2), Bradley Blalock (#17), and Freddy Zamora (#26). Along with those 3 ranked prospects, there will likely be more Minor League players protected from the draft. Often these players come from the upper ranks of the minors, as teams believe they have a better chance of sticking on the MLB Active roster for a whole season. Players selected from the Rule 5 Draft do not often become superstars, however, it is not unheard of to find solid role-players. A very recent example of a Brewers Rule 5 selection is Gus Varland in 2023. He did not stick on the Major League roster and was sent back to the Dodgers for $50K.
Non Tender Deadline/Arbitration
Players between 3 and 6 years of MLB service time automatically qualify for arbitration. There is also a system called Super Two, which allows specially selected players with just under three years of service time to qualify for arbitration. It is a system for players on the 40-man roster still under team control to present themselves and attempt to be compensated for what they believe to be fair for their play. If a team doesn’t believe a player is worth their projected arbitration amount, they can choose not to offer them a contract or “non-tender” them. Although only certain players qualify for arbitration, an MLB team can non-tender any player with less than six years of MLB service time, which is an easy way to clear up room on the 40-man roster. Said player immediately becomes a free agent and is available to sign with any team. If the team decides to offer the player a contract before the deadline, they agree to go through arbitration. The teams and players can negotiate a contract until the January 12 deadline. If no agreement is reached, they have to use an arbitrator, who holds an arbitration hearing and sides with either the team or the player. Hearings will be held between January 29-February 16, and pitchers typically go first. As for the hearings, both sides submit their desired pay figures, and the arbitrator uses previous play and other information to decide which figure is more fair. The player is then paid that figure for the year, and no more negotiation on that year’s salary can take place, although extensions can alter that. Arbitration disagreements can hurt the relationship between the player and the organization. This happened within the Brewers organization just as recent as last year. Corbin Burnes was unhappy with the organization because he felt he wasn’t being compensated well enough for his ace-like performance. This could and likely will alter negotiations down the line, if they even take place.
Arbitration Eligible Brewers (Expected $ in parentheses)
- Brandon Woodruff ($11.6M)
- Willy Adames ($12.4M)
- Corbin Burnes ($15.1M)
- Adrian Houser ($5.6M)
- Rowdy Tellez ($5.9M)
- Hoby Milner ($1.7M)
- Devin Williams ($6.5M)
- Tyrone Taylor ($1.7M)
- Bryse Wilson ($1.3M)
- Joel Payamps ($1.7M)
- Abraham Toro ($1.3M)
Multiple higher-up representatives from each team/organization, along with some agents and players, gather for four days of meetings, which is happening this year in Nashville, Tennessee. This is where trades and free agent signings are discussed and materialized rather than the General Manager Meetings in early November. Just as recently as last year, the Winter Meetings held breaking news, such as when Aaron Judge signed his 9-year, $360 Million mega-deal to stay with the Yankees. This year it could hold the news on where Ohtani will land when he signs a record-breaking contract. If you were going to bet when the most MLB transactions would happen during an offseason, this would be the time to expect.
BBWAA Hall of Fame Announcement
This year of Hall of Fame voting does not contain very much excitement pertaining to Brewers fans. There are no players who would be inducted to the Hall of Fame as Brewers that will garner enough support to make it on this ballot. To be inducted, a player needs to receive at least 75% of votes from a group of 389 members from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Alternatively, if a player on the ballot receives less than 5% of the total vote, they are removed from the ballot. The BBWAA ballot is different from the ballot you may have heard of recently. That is the Contemporary ballot and it recognizes Managers, Executives, and Umpires. The last player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Brewer by the BBWAA was Paul Molitor in 2004. This year, the ballot could provide new Hall of Famers such as Andruw Jones, Billy Wagner, Adrian Beltre, and possibly Joe Mauer.
MLB Draft Lottery
2023 was the first year that the MLB adopted the Draft Lottery. It is a draft system designed to prevent tanking and gives teams a chance to get a higher draft pick than their end of season record would dictate. Only teams that did not make the postseason qualify for the lottery, so the Brewers will not qualify this year. Teams with the worst records from the previous year have the highest chance to get the 1st overall pick along with each successive pick, making it a bit similar to how the draft order used to go with the reverse standings. In 2023, the Brewers had the lowest odds out of any team in the lottery to get the top pick at 0.2%. In the reverse standings category, they were also last at 18th. The pre-lottery odds held true, and the Brewers stuck at 18th overall, which led them to Select Brock Wilken, a slugger out of Wake Forest. This year as we all know the Brewers made the postseason, which takes them out of the draft lottery. The way it works for postseason teams is that the teams that get eliminated first get the higher picks, starting at pick #19. The Brewers got eliminated during the Wild Card Round, just after the Marlins, placing them at pick #20. This just builds suspense, because come July, all of the mock drafts you see in the early months of 2024 will likely be completely different from how the draft actually shakes out.
Winter Warm-Up (formerly Brewers On Deck)
The Brewers are finally bringing back their winter event for fans. Formerly known as Brewers On Deck, the new Winter Warm-Up will take place over the weekend of January 13-14. Several Brewers players will be in attendance, along with family-friendly events. It is hosted at the Miller High Life Theatre in Milwaukee.
The date will be officially announced later, but the Brewers pitchers and catchers will be the first players to report to the Spring Training complex between the dates of February 13-15 in Phoenix, Arizona. Then, just a couple days later the rest of the team including position players will report to camp to kick off 2024 Spring Training. They will go through team workouts in preparation for their first game, which occurs on February 25th, against the Colorado Rockies. As we all know, Spring Training games will occur for about a month, and finally on March 28th, the Milwaukee Brewers will head to the Big Apple to face the New York Mets to kick off the 2024 MLB season.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you found it useful. The offseason is filled with many dates and deadlines which can get confusing very fast. Any feedback, good or bad, would be much appreciated. I already cannot wait until Opening Day, have a happy offseason!
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