Brewers have several arbitration choices to make

Brewers have several arbitration choices to make

MILWAUKEE -- Friday is the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, and it has the potential to be an interesting day for GM David Stearns and the rest of the Brewers' decision makers.

The Brewers have already designated first baseman Chris Carter for assignment and are trying to trade him, accounting for one of eight Brewers players eligible for arbitration. Stearns & Co. have until 7 p.m. CT on Friday to decide whether to tender 2017 contracts to the others: pitchers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg and Carlos Torres, catcher Martin Maldonado and second baseman Scooter Gennett. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis agreed to a deal on Friday.

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Players who are tendered contracts before the deadline are considered signed for the following season, at a salary to be determined through the arbitration process or agreed upon before the hearing. Players who are non-tendered at the deadline become free agents.

"I think there are possibilities through the [end of the] week that we have to evaluate," Stearns said. "Really, the arbitration process gets a lot of attention in January and February, but it's an ongoing discussion between teams and agents from the moment the World Series ends. Those discussions continue, and I imagine they'll go down right to the tender deadline."

Brewers add Thames on three-year deal

The Brewers cut loose Carter, despite the fact he tied for the National League lead with 41 home runs in 2016, rather than pay him a projected $10-11 million salary in arbitration. They instead signed free agent Eric Thames this week for three years and a guaranteed $16 million.

Here's a look at the seven players under consideration:

Anderson: The right-hander is arbitration-eligible for the first time as a "Super 2 player" after earning a $520,200 salary in his first season with the Brewers. He went 9-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 30 starts plus one relief appearance.

Anderson's scoreless start

Peralta: Milwaukee's Opening Day starter earned $2.8 million last season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and endured his toughest year since undergoing Tommy John surgery as a prospect. Peralta had a 6.68 ERA through 13 starts before the Brewers optioned him to the Minors, though he returned late in the season and posted a 2.92 ERA over 10 starts. Despite the poor start to the season, Peralta figures to get a raise in arbitration, so it's up to the Brewers to decide whether to tender him a contract.

Thornburg: Emerging as a solid ninth-inning option after the Brewers traded closer Jeremy Jeffress on Aug. 1, Thornburg is sure to be tendered a contract in his first trip through arbitration. He earned $513,900 last season and finished with a 2.15 ERA and 13 saves.

Torres: Acquired two days before Opening Day, Torres was a Brewers workhorse, with a 2.73 ERA in 72 appearances. His 2016 salary was $1.05 million, and this is his second arbitration year.

Maldonado: The longtime Brewers backup made $1.1 million last season in the second year of a two-year contract, and has two arbitration years left. The Brewers, who already traded All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, must decide whether to keep Maldonado, go with a minimum-salary option in Manny Pina, or seek a catcher from outside the organization.

Gennett: The popular second baseman is a tricky case for the Brewers, who prize defensive versatility and have a number of other middle infield options. Gennett, who is limited to second base, is due a significant raise in his first year of arbitration after making $518,100 last season. His .728 OPS was 18th of 21 Major League second basemen who qualified for the batting title.

Nieuwenhuis: A favorite of manager Craig Counsell, Nieuwenhuis was decent against right-handed pitching (.732 OPS) and is one of nine outfielders on Milwaukee's 40-man roster. First-time eligible after making $514,000 last season, he will earn $900,000 in the Majors and $257,000 in the Minors, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.