Breaking down Crew's roster options for '22

October 26th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- From Willy Adames to Jordan Zimmermann, the Brewers set a club record for players to wear their uniform in 2021, winning the National League Central before a premature exit in the National League Division Series against the Braves.

Here is a look at some of those performers and where those players fit in the plans for 2022:


(third-year arbitration eligible)
It was a tale of two halves for the 29-year-old, who slashed .300/.396/.469 during the first half to make his first All-Star Game roster, then slashed .225/.272/.320 during the second half. But his defense didn’t slump; Narváez rated No. 1 on Statcast’s catcher framing leaderboard for the second straight year.

(free agent)
The longest-tenured Brewer, and one of the first acquisitions by Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns after he took the job in 2015, Piña provided a jolt of power with 13 home runs in 180 at-bats.

(third-year arbitration eligible)
Maile, 30, played in only 15 games for the Brewers during the regular season, but delivered some timely hits. He also impressed coaches and teammates with his preparedness while handling the pitching staff, which earned him a spot on the postseason roster.

No. 13 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top Brewers prospects, Feliciano made his Major League debut on May 1 against the Dodgers, worked a walk and scored the winning run in an 11-inning walk-off. He missed much of the Minor League season with an impingement in his right shoulder but is a big-time hitting prospect who could be ready for more regular Major League work in ’22.


SS (first-year arbitration eligible)
The Brewers acquired him from the Rays for relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen on May 21, and Adames joined his new team in Cincinnati the next day. It was like a jolt of adrenaline; the team was 74-44 with Adames in uniform while he posted an .886 OPS.

3B (first-year arbitration eligible)
After a debut season with the Brewers in 2020 that was marred by a hand injury and an early-season case of COVID-19, Urías was one of the team’s most durable and productive players in 2021, leading the team in games played (150) and at-bats (490) while hitting a career-high 23 home runs. He can play all over the infield, but it looks like he’s cemented a spot at third base. When Stearns was asked after the season whether Urías had proven capable of being an everyday third baseman, he said, “Absolutely.”

2B (signed through 2022, club option for 2023)
Manager Craig Counsell waxed poetic about Wong’s graceful defense on the eve of the NLDS, but the former Cardinal was just as impactful for the Brewers as their leadoff hitter. His 14 home runs and .447 slugging percentage were career highs, and he’s likely to be back atop the lineup and at second base next season.

1B (first-year arbitration eligible)
The Brewers have had a different Opening Day first baseman every year since Prince Fielder left as a free agent in the winter of 2011-12, and Tellez has a chance to keep that streak alive if the Brewers opt to tender him a contract and go into arbitration. He had some big moments, including a walk-off single for Counsell’s 500th victory as manager in August, before missing three weeks in September with a right knee injury. He got healthy just in time to play the final two games of the regular season and homered twice in the NLDS against the Braves.

2B (fourth-year arbitration eligible)
Peterson’s hitting dropped off abruptly late in the season, but for most of the year he was the Brewers’ unsung hero, helping them as much as any player to overcome a spate of early injuries to position players. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility, so it’s up to the Brewers if they want to pay to keep Peterson around or let him try his chances in free agency again.

3B (free agent)
Looking for more pop at the Trade Deadline, the Brewers sent two Minor Leaguers to Arizona for the switch-hitting All-Star on July 30. Escobar hit six home runs while slashing .268/.342/.458 for the Brewers in 48 games while playing third against right-handed pitchers and some first against lefties. He can be a free agent after the World Series.

1B (second-year arbitration eligible)
After missing all of June and July with a hamstring injury, Vogelbach returned in time to deliver one of the biggest regular-season moments in franchise history on Sept. 5 against the Cardinals, when he hit a walk-off grand slam for a 6-5 win.

1B (pre-arbitration)
The Brewers moved Hiura to first base during Spring Training and counted on him to hit in the middle of the lineup. But Hiura fared even more poorly than he did in the shortened 2020 season, slashing .168/.256/.301 with 77 strikeouts in 173 at-bats and losing the starting job. There is still time to figure out how to fix a player who has hit his whole life, but the Brewers surely won’t go into next season counting on Hiura to hold down any single position. Stearns referenced moving him around the field, including the potential of some outfield play.

3B (pre-arbitration)
The versatile Reyes bounced between the Majors and Minors all year, delivering a .692 OPS in 87 plate appearances while in the big leagues.


LF (signed through 2028)
Yelich batted .248 with a .373 slugging percentage, career lows for a full season by wide margins. He hit nine home runs in 475 plate appearances, including one homer in his final 36 games and 148 plate appearances of the regular season, and no homers in the postseason. Stearns said no when asked whether the dismissal of hitting coach Andy Haines was directly tied to Yelich’s drop-off over the past two years, but given their long relationship back to the Marlins’ Minor League system, it surely didn’t work in Haines’ favor. Next year Yelich’s base salary rises to $26 million as he enters his seven-year contract extension.

CF (signed through 2022)
Cain struggled with various lower body injuries in Spring Training and early in the regular season, but got his legs under him as the regular season wore on. He finished with a .729 OPS in 78 games, but still made an impact with his glove. Cain will turn 36 in April, so there is a chance this could be it for Milwaukee’s 17th round Draft pick in 2004.

RF (mutual option for 2022)
In what amounted to a contract year, since García got the plate appearances he needed to convert his 2022 club option to a mutual option, the 30-year-old hit a career high 29 home runs and was arguably Milwaukee’s most consistent offensive performer. He’ll have to decide after the World Series whether to head into free agency; if he opts to stay, it’s an easy decision for the Brewers to exercise their half of the option.

CF (player option for 2022)
Bradley signed with the Brewers late in Spring Training and brought an impressive track record from Boston, but his season was essentially a nightmare. He finished at .163/.236/.261 with 132 strikeouts in 387 at-bats, but still played sensational defense. Bradley has a $9.5 million player option for 2022 and a mutual option for '23, but is unlikely to opt for free agency coming off a disappointing year.

OF (pre-arbitration)
Long a Brewers prospect, Taylor has established himself as a bona fide big leaguer in the past two seasons. He missed time in August and September with an oblique injury, but when he was healthy, he delivered 12 home runs in 243 at-bats. He’s poised for a prominent role in 2022 and beyond.

RF (pre-arbitration)
The former first-round pick made his Major League debut on April 24 in his hometown of Chicago, but couldn’t stay healthy in the Minor Leagues. He’s working hard to cut down the swing and miss in his game, but that’s an even bigger challenge when he’s been limited to 452 plate appearances across all levels over the last three years.


RHP (first-year arbitration eligible)
Burnes led the Majors with a 2.43 ERA to become the first Brewers pitcher ever to win his league’s ERA title. Burnes also led MLB in strikeout rate (35.6 percent), strikeouts to walks (6.88), fielding independent pitching (1.63) and percentage of barrels (2.9 percent). Only Max Scherzer had a lower WHIP than Burnes’ 0.94. After a miserable 2019 season in which he was demoted multiple times, Burnes has rebuilt himself as an ace.

RHP (second-year arbitration eligible)
Woodruff was Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter for the second straight year and finished with the fourth-best ERA for a qualifying pitcher in franchise history (2.56), but he’s the No. 2 starter going into the offseason because of Burnes’ excellence. Woodruff led the Brewers in innings each of the past two seasons.

RHP (signed through 2024, club options through 2026)
Now armed with a slider and a changeup in addition to his fastball and curve, Peralta had a 2.81 ERA in 144 1/3 innings during the regular season with a 33.6 percent strikeout rate, third-best among MLB pitchers who topped 140 innings. Peralta missed a couple of starts during the second half with a minor shoulder injury.

RHP (first-year arbitration eligible)
On Sept. 4 against the Cardinals, Houser became the first individual Brewers pitcher to throw a shutout in more than 1,012 games, ending the longest drought in Major League history. The sinker specialist finished with a 3.22 ERA in a breakthrough season.

LHP (first-year arbitration eligible)
Like Houser, Lauer had a breakthrough season as he heads into arbitration for the first time, with a 3.19 ERA in 118 2/3 innings. And like Houser, he has pitched both as a starter and a reliever, giving the Brewers some flexibility of usage moving forward.

LHP (pre-arbitration)
A top 10 prospect in the organization, Ashby got his feet wet pitching big innings in relief in 2021. Ashby, the nephew of former big league pitcher Andy Ashby, had a 1.78 ERA in 11 appearances between a disappointing Major League debut as a starter on June 30 against the Cubs and a disappointing final appearance against the Dodgers in the regular-season finale on Oct 3 at the Dodgers. He endured more disappointment in Game 4 of the NLDS, yielding a lead in a loss that ended Milwaukee’s season. But he’s poised to join the starting rotation in ’22.

LHP (third-year arbitration eligible)
It was another stellar season for Hader, who ended the regular season with a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless outings after posting a 19-game scoreless streak earlier in the year and continuing to embrace a more traditional one-inning closer’s role. Since he first reached arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player, Hader still has two years of club control remaining.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
On one hand, it was a great season for Williams in that he established that his NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2020’s shortened season was no fluke. He pitched 54 innings with a 2.50 ERA and 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings. On the other hand, Williams’ season ended abruptly when he fractured his right hand punching a wall after the Brewers clinched the NL Central. Williams underwent surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

RHP (free agent)
Boxberger was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training who didn’t make the Brewers’ Opening Day roster and could have gone elsewhere. But he stuck with the Brewers and wound up making a team-high 71 appearances mostly as the bridge to Williams and Hader.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
Cousins had a 2.70 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 30 innings during the regular season thanks to one of the best sliders you’ll see. He had a minor biceps injury late in the season but was healthy going into the postseason, and he has earned a prominent spot in Milwaukee’s bullpen picture for 2022.

LHP (second-year arbitration eligible)
Second on the team to Boxberger with 61 appearances, Suter works fast and can be effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. He can also work multiple innings if needed. But the Brewers missed Suter in the postseason when he suffered an oblique injury in the regular-season finale that sidelined him for the NLDS against the Braves.

RHP (free agent)
The Brewers acquired Strickland from the Angels in June and he pitched well after the trade, with a 1.73 ERA in 35 appearances for Milwaukee. When the Brewers needed to escape a jam in the middle of an inning, Strickland was often their choice. He should garner interest in free agency this winter.

LHP (free agent)
Stearns tried to improve the bullpen at the Trade Deadline without much success. John Curtiss, acquired from the Marlins, injured his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. Norris, acquired from the Tigers, had a 6.64 ERA in 18 appearances after the trade.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
The Brewers expected to use Curtiss a lot down the stretch after picking him up in a trade with the Marlins, but an elbow injury dashed those plans. He will miss most or all of 2022.

RHP (first-year arbitration eligible)
Another reliever acquired via in-season trade, Gustave had a solid 1.09 WHIP in 14 appearances in the Majors for Milwaukee. He’s arbitration-eligible, so the question is whether the Brewers are willing to invest in bringing him back at a higher salary for 2022.

LHP (free agent)
The veteran dealt with injuries all season long, mostly to his lower body, and finished the regular season with a 4.22 ERA in 96 innings.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a relatively older player in 2016, Sánchez made his Major League debut in 2021 with a 4.50 ERA in 26 innings. He could cut down on his 14 walks, but as a minimum salary player has a chance to contribute again in ’22.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
The Brewers saw a prominent bullpen role for Topa in ’21, but he injured his forearm at the end of Spring Training and spent most of the summer rehabbing, only to re-injure his twice-repaired elbow in his fourth appearance for the Brewers.

RHP (signed through 2022)
The veteran right-hander had a 9.72 ERA in eight games for the Brewers early in the season before a demotion to Triple-A Nashville, where he spent the remainder of the year and delivered a 3.10 ERA in 104 2/3 innings. He has one season left on his three-year deal, and it’s unclear how the Brewers intend to utilize him in ‘22.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
No. 24 on MLB Pipeline’s list of top Brewers prospects, Bettinger surrendered at least one earned run each of the four times he took the mound for Milwaukee, including in his Major League debut on May 2 against the Dodgers in which he surrendered two grand slams. He had a 4.75 ERA in 96 2/3 innings at Triple-A Nashville.

LHP (pre-arbitration)
In the Majors, Milner had a 5.40 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 19 games. At Nashville, he had a 1.69 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP in 30 games. He’ll be out of options next year.

RHP (pre-arbitration)
Yardley played a big role for the Brewers in the shortened 2020 season with a 1.54 ERA in a team-high 24 games, but he couldn’t replicate that success in ’21 and finished the year with a 6.75 ERA.

RHP (first-year arbitration eligible)
The veteran was pitching in Japan at the start of 2021 but found his way back to the U.S. for an opportunity with the Brewers, who were impressed enough by his work at Triple-A Nashville to call him up at the end of the season. Rea covered six innings in the penultimate game of the regular season against the Dodgers.