3 offseason moves Milwaukee Brewers must make after early playoff exit

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After making the playoffs, and exiting early as expected, here are three moves the Milwaukee Brewers must make this offseason.

The Milwaukee Brewers backed into the playoffs with a losing record this year (29-31), as they never got to .500 over the 60 games. They likely weren’t long for the postseason, with a Wild Card Series date against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The series went just as expected, as the Dodgers dismissed the Brewers in two games. So now Milwaukee can shift into offseason mode, and try to address some needs with what’s on track to be limited resources with a lack of ballpark revenue in 2020.

The Brewers have to succeed in the margins, uncovering and cultivating talent while taking some calculated risks and on knowing when to move on. That they made the postseason this year with Christian Yelich struggling like he did (.205/.356/.430 slash-line) and Lorenzo Cain opting out is a minor miracle.

Here are three moves the Brewers must make this offseason.

3 offseason moves the Milwaukee Brewers must make

3. Trade Josh Hader

Hader was very good again this year, and he’s got three years of team control left via arbitration. A couple rougher outings didn’t help in a short season (21 appearances), especially with one coming in mid-September, But Hader’s ERA (3.79) was over a run higher than in 2019 (2.72). That bump higher in ERA was backed up by an increase in FIP (4.03, 3.10 in 2019) and drop-offs in K/9 (14.7) and BB/9 (4.7) rate (16.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 in 2019).

By the measure of Win Above Replacement, Hader went from over 2.0 WAR in 2018 and 2019 to 0.3 fWAR and 0.4 bWAR this year. FanGraphs also shows he threw his fastball way less this year (67.7 percent, 84.3 percent in 2019), trading it almost equally for more sliders (32.3 percent; 15.4 percent in 2019). Deeper peripherals show a decline in the effectiveness of his fastball this year, and less swing-and-miss for batters overall.

The Brewers shouldn’t overreact to the results from a short season, and it’s not as if Hader was a  stiff in 2020. But there are some red flags if they are willing to analyze him critically, and other teams will surely have interest again this offseason. Devin Williams was a find out of the bullpen this year (0.33 ERA, 17.7 K/9), before a shoulder injury kept him out of the two-game playoff stint. If a team calls offering a solid haul for Hader, the Brewers have to listen hard and consider selling high.

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