First baseman Daniel Vogelbach, reliever John Curtiss are only players Brewers decline to offer 2022 contracts

Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Daniel Vogelbach finished last season with a .219 batting average with nine home runs and 24 RBI after missing extended time with a hamstring injury.

First baseman Daniel Vogelbach was the only casualty as the Milwaukee Brewers worked through their 13 arbitration eligible players Tuesday on deadline day for tendering contracts for the 2022.

The Brewers non-tendered Vogelbach but signed Rowdy Tellez to a one-year, $1.94 million deal as they chose one left-handed, slugging first baseman over the other. Tellez was acquired in July when Vogelbach was sidelined for an extended period with a hamstring injury. Tellez produced well enough (.814 OPS in 56 games, two homers in the NLDS) for the club to decide to keep him.

Vogelbach, picked up near the end of the 2020 season, batted .219 with nine home runs, 24 RBI and .730 OPS in 93 games this year. He was projected to have a $2 million salary through arbitration.

The Brewers also non-tendered reliever John Curtiss, who was not arbitration eligible. Acquired at the trade deadline from Miami, Curtiss suffered an elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery and will not be able to pitch in 2022.

Two other players signed to avoid arbitration and possible non-tenders. Super utility player Jace Peterson – who made starts at six positions and delivered many big hits – signed a one-year deal for an undisclosed figure and reliever Jandel Gustave agreed to a split contract that will pay him $675,000 if in the majors. 

The Brewers tendered contracts to their remaining nine arbitration eligible players and can continue to negotiate before hearings are scheduled in February (assuming a lockout does not change that).

The players in line for the biggest arbitration salaries are reliever Josh Hader and right-hander Brandon Woodruff. In his third year of arbitration after initially qualifying as a "Super 2" player, the 27-year-old Hader is expected to jump from a $6.675 million salary to somewhere around $10 million.

Woodruff, 28, is coming off a $3.275 million salary as another "Super 2" player last year and after finishing among the league leaders in many categories figures to jump to around $7 million. 

Five of the remaining Brewers' arbitration players are in that process for the first time, which generally portends big raises. Right-hander Corbin Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner, and shortstop Willy Adames are expected to jump from near-minimum salaries to the $4 million neighborhood.

Catcher Omar Narváez, coming off an all-star season and again leading the league in framing pitches as a much-improved defender, took a pay cut to $2.5 million last year but now is also expected to get a boost to around $4 million. 

Starting pitchers Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer, both of whom had breakthrough seasons in 2021, are projected to jump from near-minimums to more than $2 million. Another breakthrough player, shortstop Luis Urías, is a "Super 2" player and also projected to go past the $2 million level.

Left-handed reliever Brent Suter, coming off a two-year deal that paid him $2.5 million, including a $1.5 million salary in 2021, is projected to earn about $2.3 million next year. 

The Brewers also announced the signing of veteran left-handed reliever Rex Brothers to a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league spring camp. Brothers, 33, spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Cubs and was 3-2 with a 5.26 ERA over 57 appearances, with an impressive rate of 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings but a dismal ratio of 5.9 walks per nine. 

Signings of catchers official

The Brewers made official the signings of free-agent catchers Pedro Severino and Brett Sullivan to one-year deals, both of which had been reported in recent days. 

Severino, 28, who signed for $1.9 million, will be the backup to Narváez, replacing Manny Piña, who signed a two-year free agent deal with Atlanta. Severino played in a career-high 113 games for Baltimore last season, batting .248 with 11 homers and 46 RBI, with a .818 OPS against left-handed pitching. 

Sullivan, 27, was a minor-league free agent after playing for six seasons in Tampa Bay's system. The left-handed hitter  has not played in the majors but provides catching depth and is likely to open next season at Class AAA Nashville, sharing time with prospect Mario Feliciano.

Sullivan batted .223 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 90 games, including 66 behind the plate, at Class AAA Durham last season. He also has seen action in left field, third base and first base.