Three Pressing Tasks For Matt Arnold As He Takes The Reigns Of The Milwaukee Brewers’ Front Office

Matt Arnold won’t have much time to sit and reflect on the two-decade journey that took him from UC-Santa Barbara to Milwaukee, where he was named the Brewers’ president of baseball operations Thursday after David Stearns unexpectedly stepped down from the position.

Milwaukee’s new front office chief inherited a lengthy to-do list of important tasks that need to be addressed quickly as the team prepares for what could be a pivotal offseason.

Here’s a quick look at the most pressing issues as Arnold settles into his new role:

Craig Counsell’s Contract Status

The National League’s longest-tenured manager signed a three-year contract extension in January 2020 that is set to expire after the upcoming season. Like his predecessor, who was hired months after Counsell was brought on to replace Ron Roenicke, Arnold is inheriting a manager and while traditionally, general managers and presidents of baseball operations prefer to bring in their own candidate, it’s hard to see Arnold parting ways with the winningest manger in franchise history who also happens to be a Milwaukee native and beloved member of the community.

“He is one of the best managers in the National League, one of the most prominent people in the state of Wisconsin,” Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about this as we see fit. This is maybe a little different than in big cities, but I think Matt and Craig are neighbors. When I decided in consultation with David to promote Matt, I talked to Craig about that. He was totally supportive. I expect the transition will be seamless.”

Extensions for Burnes & Woodruff

The Brewers’ recent string of success has been fueled in large part by the ability to draft / acquire and develop young pitching talent. They have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball anchored by a three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff.

Peralta isn’t going anywhere any time soon, thanks to the five-year, $15.5 million deal he signed just before baseball suspended operations in 2020 but both Burnes and Woodruff are headed back to arbitration this winter and could earn as much as $11 million apiece according to projections from

Pitching is the most expensive commodity in baseball and there’s nothing the Brewers would like more than to keep their aces around for the foreseeable future. Doing that, however, won’t be easy. Neither pitcher is going to sign as deal as team-friendly as Peralta’s, which already looks like a steal, so it’s up to Arnold to decide how to proceed.

“Obviously, we’re at the outset of this so I want to talk with the team about how they feel and obviously, those are two-way conversations,” Arnold said. “The player has to be on board with that as well but we’re certainly going to talk about that over the next couple of months.”

Arbitration-Eligible Players

Along with Burnes and Woodruff, the Brewers have 16 other players eligible for arbitration this winter including key core pieces like shortstop Willy Adames, infielder Keston Hiura, starting right-hander Adrian Houser, left-handed starter Eric Lauer, left-handed reliever Brent Suter, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, infielder Luis Uiras and closer Devin Williams.

Arnold also has to decide what to do with infielder Keston Hiura and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. Both are arbitration-eligible, as well, but roster realities make their future with the team somewhat uncertain.

In Renfroe’s case, it’s a matter of price and options. He performed well in 2022, slashing .255/.300/.490 with 29 home runs and an .807 OPS but turns 31 in January and stands to earn around $11 million next season. Meanwhile, the Brewers have a bumper crop of highly-touted outfield prospects waiting in the wings at Triple-A Nashville, including former first-round draft pick Garrett Mitchell who made a positive impression during a late-season call-up in 2022.

Then there’s Hiura, another former first-round pick and top prospect, who has never reverted to the offensive form of his rookie season, never quite worked as a second baseman and efforts to move him to first were thwarted by the emergence of Tellez. He seems more and more to wind up as a designated hitter somewhere, but whether or not that’s in Milwaukee is for Arnold to decide.

“Look, that’s part of the business,” Arnold said. “That’s what it is. But I think once we get to spring training to get going, everybody’s going to be excited to be there and get to work. I’m excited about the core that we have here and ready to look forward to 2023.”