Former Orioles All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who was traded July 31 to the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the team's massive teardown, wasn't tendered a contract by his new club ahead of Friday night's deadline for arbitration-eligible players.
In lieu of paying Schoop, 27, the estimated $10.1 million he could be owed in his final year of club control, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections, the Brewers are casting one of their trade deadline acquisitions to the open market a year before he was supposed to be a free agent.
While Schoop was in the midst of a significant turnaround in July when the Orioles sent him packing on trade deadline day as the final of their five sell-off deals, he struggled badly upon his arrival in Milwaukee. He hit .202 with four home runs and a .577 OPS in 46 games (29 starts) for the Brewers, failing to hold down a starting spot or make much of an impact as he adjusted to his new surroundings.
The move puts Schoop on the open market where a team will hope he regains the form he showed in July with the Orioles, and all through his 2017 All-Star season. After years of showing promise, Schoop broke out in 2017 to hit .293/.338/.503 with 32 home runs, earning Most Valuable Oriole honors.
Schoop was batting .197 on July 1, but hit .360 with nine home runs and a 1.056 OPS in July to bring his average to .244 when he was dealt for infielder Jonathan Villar, right-hander Luis Ortiz and shortstop Jean Carmona.
Since he wasn't tendered a contract, Schoop joins his friend and former teammate Manny Machado as one of the younger free agents on the market. Only Machado and Bryce Harper are younger than Schoop among established free agents this winter.
A reunion with the Orioles makes sense in theory, though a long-term contract for a player who might be in his decline by the time the Orioles are truly contenders again might not make sense for the team. It's clear that Schoop valued the comfort and stability the Orioles provided him before he was somewhat blindsided by the trade, but Schoop figures to have plenty of suitors.
The Brewers weren't the only teams to trade for second baseman last summer — others include the Chicago Cubs (Daniel Murphy), Los Angeles Dodgers (Brian Dozier) and Boston Red Sox (Ian Kinsler). All those teams, plus the Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics have recently lost their starters at second base.