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First, the Milwaukee Brewers lost their manager to the Chicago Cubs.
Now, they may be entering a rebuilding period.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Milwaukee is “open to moving virtually any player on its roster” after Craig Counsell joined the Cubs. “The process effectively has begun, with the Brewers sending outfielder Mark Canha to the Detroit Tigers for a pitching prospect. A continued teardown, considering the Brewers’ current position, would not be without logic. It might even be the proper course.”
Milwaukee acquired Canha from the New York Mets in a trade last season, and he slashed .287/.373/.427 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 50 games for the National League Central team.
He was an important contributor down the stretch and seemed to fit in nicely with the lineup, but this may be shaping up to be an offseason of transition for the club.
That might not have always been the plan, as general manager Matt Arnold told reporters he was “very shocked” when Counsell departed for the Cubs.
“We’ve been super supportive of him and his opportunity to assess the market,” he added. “That was up to him.”
One of the things that made Counsell so successful in Milwaukee was his ability to compete with payrolls that were much smaller than some of his primary competitors, including in Chicago. The Brewers were just 19th in payroll last season, which was below the league average.
Yet they won the NL Central and made the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. While they fell short of the World Series during that span, the run of success within the market constraints was notable.
Those market constraints may be a factor this offseason if the Brewers do decide to trade some of their key players.
It remains to be seen whether that would mean players such as Christian Yelich or Corbin Burnes, but Rosenthal’s report made it seem like nobody was off the table. If Milwaukee is a seller this offseason and the Cubs are aggressive after adding Counsell, the balance of power in the division may be quite different in 2024.