Both veteran players were widely expected to do so after landing in Milwaukee on one-year deals -- Moustakas' second consecutive one-year deal -- when they did not find multiyear contracts to their liking last offseason. Now they will try again using productive seasons as springboards, with Grandal coming off posting the second-highest WAR for a catcher and Moustakas coming off a 35-homer campaign.
Brewers general manager David Stearns has not closed the door on bringing back either player.
"They were both very important members of our team,” Stearns said in early October. “We’re very cognizant of that. There were levels of production there that we are going to have to fill in one way or the other. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial that I’d love to have both of them back. They are two very good players that fit with our organization and fit with our team very well. Whether the realities of the market permit that and whether the realities of the free-agent market permit that is something we will have to evaluate as we go through the offseason.”
Two other players -- first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin and utility man Cory Spangenberg -- also elected free agency Friday following outright assignments to Triple-A San Antonio. The decision to remove them from the 40-man roster meant either Milwaukee needed the roster space, was unwilling to pay those players increased salaries in arbitration, or both.
As with Grandal and Moustakas, either player could still be a fit with the Brewers if the sides can work out a deal. Austin provided some pop late in the season as a right-handed-hitting complement to first baseman Eric Thames, and Spangenberg was valuable to Milwaukee for his defensive versatility and a handful of timely hits. The Brewers already cut loose their other utility man, Hernán Pérez, earlier this offseason.
The Brewers now have 31 players on their 40-man roster.