The move came as the Brewers non-tendered three players Wednesday. Knebel had been a non-tender candidate by the Brewers.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 3, 2020
Teams from across Major League Baseball had until 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to tender contracts to all players with less than six years of major-league experience. That includes any players with enough service time who are eligible for arbitration, which often brings a significant increase in salary for players.
Off to L.A.
Knebel’s base salary for 2020 was $5.125 million and likely would have earned a similar paycheck for 2021 through arbitration. The right-hander injured his elbow in spring training of 2019 and missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery.
The 29-year-old was an All-Star closer in 2017 when he converted 39 of 45 save opportunities and posted a 1.75 ERA. Knebel struck out 126 and walked 40 in 76 innings.
Rough Road Back
With the minor leagues shut down due to COVID-19, Knebel did not have the chance to go on rehab outings and work his way back to the majors. He appeared in 15 of the Brewers’ 60 regular-season games, striking out 15 and walking eight in 13.1 innings. Knebel had an ERA of 6.08.
This was his last time being eligible for arbitration and his contract is palatable for the big-market Dodgers, who are coming off winning the World Series. The Dodgers did tender a contract to Knebel.
Gamel, Claudio Nontendered
Backup outfielder Ben Gamel, reliever Alex Claudio, and reserve infielder Jace Peterson were non-tendered by the Brewers. Those three players are now free agents and can sign with any team, including back with the Brewers.
Shortstop Orlando Arcia, catcher Omar Narvaez, catcher Manny Pina and first baseman Daniel Vogelbach agreed to new contracts. Reliever Josh Hader and starter Brandon Woodruff were tendered contracts for the 2021 season. Those two can continue to negotiate a deal with the Brewers or wait for the arbitration process to play out.
Hader a No-Brainer
Hader was the easiest decision to tender a contract. After back-to-back All-Star selections in 2018 and 2019, the hard-throwing left-hander led the National League with 13 saves (in 15 opportunities) in 2020.
His base salary for 2020 was $4.1 million after his first trip through salary arbitration. Hader was a Super 2 player, meaning he became eligible for salary arbitration after two-plus seasons in the majors instead of the typical three.
Protecting the Ace
Like Hader, there wasn’t any doubt Woodruff would be tendered. The right-hander has developed into the Brewers’ top starter while posting a 19-11 record with a 3.66 ERA in 62 career appearances, including 47 starts.
Woodruff is also a candidate to sign an extension that would buy out his remaining arbitration years.
Arcia, who signed a one-year, $2.2 million contract in his first arbitration season, reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal for 2021. Narvaez took a pay cut after a brutal offensive showing in his first season with the Brewers. He will reportedly make $2.5 million in 2021.
Vogelbach was a late-season waiver pickup from the Toronto Blue Jays and injected life into a moribund offense. He reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million deal in his first year of being arbitration-eligible. Vogelbach is more of a designated hitter, so the Brewers are gambling a bit that the DH will return to the NL for 2021.
On the Market
Gamel was a dependable backup who could play all three outfield spots. But the left-handed hitter was spotty offensively, making him expendable. The Brewers recently declined a $2.5 million option on Gamel for 2021 after his base salary for 2020 was $1.4 million.
Claudio has been a durable left-hander who appeared in an NL-high 83 games in 2019, then 20 more in 2020. He had been more of a lefty specialist, but the implementation of the three-batter minimum in 2020 limited his usage.
Peterson had just 61 plate appearances in 2020 after being signed as a free agent from the Baltimore Orioles.
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