Hot Stove & Cold Brews: Crew, fans share a night out

Adames, Peralta express interest in World Baseball Classic; Counsell, Arnold look forward

January 19th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Manager Craig Counsell hopes Wednesday was the start of a more up-close and personal relationship between the Brewers and their fans.

“The way life and the world has worked, we haven’t been able to do this, connect with our fans,” Counsell said at an event called Hot Stove & Cold Brews, an intimate reincarnation of the team’s pre-pandemic fanfest. “I think this year you’ll see much more of that from us.”

“To get to say hi and let them see our personalities a little bit is really, really cool,” said , who last season began the transition from outfield prospect to Major Leaguer.

Said left-hander : “It just feels like we’re really close.”

Three and a half months since the Brewers, hobbled by an unpopular trade, missed the postseason for the first time in five years, Counsell and a handful of his players met fans at a tavern in the shadow of American Family Field to shake hands, take photos, pour beers and look forward.

and both said they hope to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Infielder of Fredonia, Wis., got a taste of what it will be like playing for his hometown team. Ashby spoke of building on his first full Major League season. Mitchell’s mind is set on being the Opening Day center fielder. Counsell said he’s ready to work through MLB’s rule changes, particularly with a starting rotation that appears significantly deeper than last year’s.

And if the several hundred fans who lined up in the rain had something to get off their chest about the team’s moves last season or this offseason, this was their chance.

“I’ll tell you this: If you were disappointed about last year, if I go back five years ago, that’s what I would have wanted,” Counsell said. “You want people disappointed about not making the playoffs. That’s good, man. That’s how it’s supposed to be when you’ve worked really hard to create [expectations]. You don’t walk away from that stuff.

“When you take a step back from it, it’s exactly what you’ve tried to create. We had some disappointment, we live with that disappointment and we get a chance to do it again.”

Did it hurt to see the Phillies in the World Series after they narrowly claimed the National League’s final Wild Card?

“That could’ve been us,” Adames said. “They beat us by one game. That could’ve been us, but it wasn’t. So now that motivates us to be a better team this year and win it all.”

Adames and Peralta made some news by expressing their desire to play in the WBC, which would require them to leave Spring Training camp for several weeks to train in Florida with the Dominican Republic squad. That’s particularly notable for Peralta, who was limited to 78 innings last season because of a right shoulder injury.

Adames also talked business. He and the Brewers settled on an $8.7 million contract for 2023 to avoid arbitration, but they have yet to have substantive talks about an extension, according to Adames. He has one more year of club control in '24 before reaching free agency.

“I think I’ve said it before. I’d love to stay,” Adames said. “I love the city, I love the fans, I Iove playing here. We haven’t had any conversations yet, but I’m always ready to listen to see what they have.”

Would he like those talks to begin?

“I’m always open,” Adames said. “I’m letting my agents handle that. I’m always open to talking. I’m willing to stay here. I want to stay here.”

The Brewers’ expenditures this offseason have included two free agents (pitcher and infielder/outfielder ), trades for All-Star catcher from the Braves and outfielder and infielder from the Mariners, and other moves for bullpen candidates, including and . According to FanGraphs’ estimates, the current payroll projection is about $120 million. It was about $137 million at the end of last season.

“I talk to everyone, like my son’s teammates on his Little League team. I talk to neighbors and a lot of people around the community,” Brewers GM Matt Arnold said. “The people that I’ve interacted with are very excited about this team, just like we are.

“I think we’ve talked about being opportunistic, and that’s what it’s about. I mean, we’ve seen what the market is doing, and we have to be patient. That is the reality of our situation here. But we are going to be opportunistic, and you’ve seen that we’ve made signings in the past, whether it’s or or [later in the offseason]. We know we have the [ownership] support to do that.”