Breaking down Crew's non-tender deadline

December 3rd, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- With 10 players eligible for arbitration at the start of the day, Wednesday’s non-tender deadline was sure to produce a flurry of activity for the Brewers, culminating in a trade that sent former All-Star closer to the Dodgers.

Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT was the deadline for teams to tender contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man roster for 2021, most notably their players eligible for arbitration. By day’s end, those players would fall into one of four categories:

  1. In agreement for a new contract
  2. Traded
  3. Non-tendered, making the player a free agent
  4. Tendered a contract, meaning the club commits to going through the arbitration process to determine the player’s 2021 salary

Here are the 10 Brewers players affected, along with Wednesday’s outcomes:

Wednesday outcome: Signed one-year contract (reportedly worth $2 million)
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $2.2 million
Outlook: Arcia faced competition going into last year after the Brewers traded for Luis Urías, but he wound up being the everyday shortstop once again after Urías endured a series of misfortunes, and Arcia made the most of the opportunity, posting a career-best .734 OPS. His new deal was first reported by USA Today, and represents the second straight year that he signed ahead of the deadline to avoid a potential non-tender.

Wednesday outcome: Non-tendered
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $1.75 million
Outlook: Claudio, a left-handed relief specialist, was non-tendered on this day last year, but then re-signed as a free agent. He could be a candidate to return in the same way.

Wednesday outcome: Non-tendered
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $1.4 million
Outlook: Gamel emerged from Summer Camp red-hot, but he cooled off during the regular season and eventually missed the final two weeks of the regular season with a strained left quadriceps. His .237/.315/.404 slash line in 40 games wasn’t enough to entice the Brewers to exercise a $2.55 million club option.

Wednesday outcome: Tendered, remains in arbitration
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $4.1 million
Outlook: Hader went all the way to an arbitration hearing with the Brewers prior to 2020 and lost, but it didn’t impact his performance. Hader set an all-time record for the most hitless appearances to begin a season (12) and finished with another sub-1.00 WHIP (0.95). This will be his second of four turns through the arbitration process after he qualified last year as a Super Two.

Wednesday outcome: Traded to Dodgers for player to be named or cash
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $5.125 million
Outlook: After missing all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Knebel was denied the usual rehab process as he returned to action in ’20, because there were no Minor League affiliates playing games. Perhaps it showed: His average fastball velocity dropped to 94.3 mph (from 96.9 mph in 2018, according to Statcast), and he developed some bad mechanical habits that led to a left hamstring strain and a stint on the injured list. The Brewers were unwilling to bet another $5 million-plus that Knebel’s promising finish was sustainable, so they dealt him to the deep-pocketed Dodgers for future considerations.

“Look, I didn’t perform the way that I should have performed in 2020, so there’s no reason for the Brewers to want to pay me,” Knebel said Wednesday. “I have nothing but respect for [Brewers president of baseball operations David] Stearns and [GM Matt] Arnold and [manager Craig] Counsell over there. They’ve been great to me and I loved being over there with them. I understand every point of view for this. But like I said, I am very grateful for the Dodgers to give me this opportunity and I’m excited to be over there with them.”

Wednesday outcome: Signed one-year contract (reportedly worth $2.5 million)
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $2.725 million
Outlook: The Brewers overcame many individual disappointments to sneak into the postseason for the third straight year in 2020, arguably none more disheartening than the performance of Narváez, who slashed .176/.294/.269 with a 31 percent strikeout rate -- up from 19.1 percent the year before. But he's back for the one-year deal, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the terms of which the Brewers have also not confirmed. He still looks like the No. 1 option on the Brewers’ crowded depth chart, with five catchers currently on the 40-man roster and another (Luke Maile) set to join when he passes a physical and inks a one-year deal.

Wednesday outcome: Non-tendered
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $563,500
Outlook: Peterson provided some value in a utility role for the Brewers after a midseason promotion in 2020 and reached base at a .393 clip. Even though he was non-tendered, he is the type of player the club covets, and a return is possible.

Wednesday outcome: Signed one-year contract (reportedly worth $1.65 million)
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $1.85 million
Outlook: Piña stood to become the Brewers everyday catcher in light of Narváez’s ongoing struggles, but Piña sustained a right knee injury that required surgery due to a torn meniscus and it cost him the last month of the 2020 season. He was almost baseball-ready when the Brewers’ season ended with a loss to the Dodgers in the National League Wild Card Series.

Wednesday outcome: Signed one-year contract (reportedly $1.4 million)
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $580,900
Outlook: The left-handed slugger came to Milwaukee on waivers and delivered a .987 OPS in 67 late-season plate appearances, a burst of power against right-handed pitching. The question is positional fit; when they acquired Vogelbach, Brewers officials said they viewed him as primarily a designated hitter, and at the moment, there is no guarantee that the DH will remain in the NL in 2021.

“The DH is up in the air. We don’t know,” Stearns said. “We also understand that we played with the DH last year and we have to be prepared should there be a DH in the National League [in 2021]. We don’t know exactly how that’s going to play out. What we do know is Dan did a tremendous job for us last year and can be a very impactful left-handed bat for us.”

Wednesday outcome: Tendered, remains in arbitration
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $633,100
Outlook: Eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two player, Woodruff is coming off another strong season in which he logged a 3.05 ERA and a career-best 0.99 WHIP. He is expected to lead the rotation again in 2021 alongside another homegrown Brewers starter, Corbin Burnes.