In yet another why-must-everything-be-so-complicated dilemma in a year full of them for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, now comes the potential ransacking of the roster just ahead of the playoffs.
On Friday – Sept. 1 – rosters in the Major Leagues expand from 25 to 40 available active spots. This means anyone currently on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, of which there are eight Sky Sox, can be brought up to bolster the bench without making any corresponding moves.
With the Brewers just 3.5 games out in the NL Central and three games behind the Rockies for the second wild-card spot, it would make sense to pad that bench as much as possible.
Either way, someone is going to get the short end of the stick.
The Sky Sox stand to lose pitchers Aaron Brooks, Junior Guerra, Tyler Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang, Tyler Webb and Brandon Woodruff. Among position players, infielder Yadiel Rivera and outfielder Brett Phillips are on the 40-man. Lewis Brinson is also on the 40-man, but he is on the disabled list and will not play again this season.
This group comprises some of the key players who have helped the Sky Sox clinch a postseason berth, and taking them away would leave the team short-handed for its first playoff appearance since 1997.
Jungmann is 8-2 with a 2.77 ERA. Woodruff has six victories. Wang has a 2.05 ERA in 47 relief appearances. Phillips is the team’s leader with 217 total bases in a year in which he has a slash line of .305/.377/.567 with 23 doubles, 10 triples, 19 home runs and 78 RBIs in 105 games. Rivera, a shortstop who can play anywhere on the infield, could be a valuable defensive replacement in the sub-heavy National League game.
So, it would behoove the Brewers to grab at least some of these guys as soon as possible.
Also, there’s huge financial ramifications for the players involved. If they spend the final month with the Brewers, their pro-rated portion would be about one-sixth of the $535,000 major league minimum – so about $90,000. Each day Milwaukee would keep them in Triple-A to play out the string with the Sky Sox would cost the players about $3,000.
Many of these players were not high draft picks who signed for huge bonuses, nor are they big league veterans who have made more than most people will see in a lifetime. This would be serious money for them.
So, yet another complicated scenario awaits. Does Milwaukee keep some of these guys behind to help the Sky Sox make a run at a Pacific Coast League title, sacrificing their own bench and taking earnings away from the players in the process? Or do they pillage a Sky Sox roster just as a rare playoff awaits?