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Milwaukee Brewers relief ace Josh Hader and right-hander Brandon Woodruff avoided salary arbitration on Friday by agreeing to one-year deals. Hader will earn $6.675 million in 2020, while Woodruff's salary wasn't immediately known. Hader set an all-time record with 12 consecutive hitless innings to begin the 2020 season and ended with 31 strikeouts and 10 walks in 19 innings, picking up 13 saves along the way. The dominant southpaw has a 2.54 ERA with 62 saves and 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings over 172 outings in four seasons in Milwaukee and remains an elite fantasy closer. Woodruff was an All-Star in 2019 and had a solid 3.05 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 in 13 starts (73 2/3 innings) in 2020. He had a 1.63 ERA with 36 K's and three walks in 27 2/3 innings in his final four starts and will be a highly coveted fantasy starter entering 2021 fantasy drafts. Woodruff's 24.9 percent strikeout-minus-walk percentage ranked ninth in the majors last year.
The Milwaukee Brewers claimed utility man Tim Lopes off waivers from the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. The 26-year-old hit .238 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 46 games for the Mariners during the shortened 2020 season, adding a .278 on-base percentage and .364 slugging percentage. In 2019, Lopes hit .270 with a home run and 12 RBI in 41 games played, adding a .359 on-base percentage and .360 slugging percentage. He was let go by Seattle in order to add Chris Flexen after signing him to a two-year deal a few days ago. Lopes also added five steals in his 143 at-bats last season, playing primarily left and right field, but he also has some experience at second and third base. He'll provide depth in the infield and outfield for Milwaukee in 2021.
Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell is confident that former MVP outfielder Christian Yelich's 2020 hitting struggles won't carry over into the 2021 season. Yelich won consecutive National League batting titles in 2018 and 2019 in his first two years with the team, but he batted just .205 with 12 home runs and 22 RBI in 58 games last year. The alarming thing is that Yelich struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances, but his high walk totals still gave him a .356 on-base percentage. "It's not going to happen again," Counsell said. It was certainly a concerning season for the former batting champ, but it was also a very small sample size and shouldn't concern fantasy managers too much when they're selecting in the early rounds of 2021 drafts.
The Milwaukee Brewers "intend to listen" to offers for All-Star relief pitcher Josh Hader, according to sources. The Brewers will want a big return for a player they think is the best left-handed reliever in baseball. Hader ranks in the top two percent in strikeout rate (39.7 percent) and in the top four percent in hard-hit rate (26.5 percent). His fastball velocity dropped slightly last season, but he was still dominant for most of the shortened 2020 campaign except for two outings in which he allowed six of his eight runs on the season. The southpaw is projected to earn $5.1 million in salary arbitration in 2021, with that number rising until he's a free agent in 2024. The Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and Mets are among the teams to show previous interest in Hader.
Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams was named the National League Rookie of the Year on Monday. Williams features a devastating changeup and a four-seam fastball that reaches the upper-90s. The 26-year-old went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA while striking out 53 hitters in only 27 innings in the shortened 2020 season. He becomes the first pitcher to win the award without recording a save or making a start during his award-winning season. Williams is also the first reliever to win the award in either league since Craig Kimbrel did it for the Braves in 2011. He's Milwaukee's first Rookie of the Year since Ryan Braun won it in 2007. Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm finished tied for second in the balloting.