Attanasio says the Brewers operated at a loss in 2019

The Milwaukee Brewers had a payroll of $135,889,019 in 2019.

That dollar amount, according to Sportrac, was the 16th highest in Major League Baseball and just slightly below the league average.

Ryan Braun, Yasmani Grandal and Lorenzo Cain were the only players who made more than $10 million for the season.

The team’s 2020 roster is not yet finalized, but unless there is a block-buster trade where the Brewers take on a large contract, there is a ballpark estimate of where their payroll will stand.

23rd overall, right around $91 million.

“We had an operating loss last year,” team owner Mark Attanasio told reporters at spring training in Phoenix, AZ. on Tuesday. “If you’re going to run a baseball team properly, the season snap shots, you really have to look on a rolling basis how you’re doing. We had some years as we were building and we want to keep our powder dry somewhat for the next opportunity, whether it comes next season or the next off-season.”

This year Christian Yelich will make $12.5 million, replacing Grandal on the list of players who will surpass more than a $10 million salary.

Grandal left in free agency after accepting a 4-year, $73 million offer with the Chicago White Sox. The team also watched Mike Moustakas sign a multi-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds worth $64 million.

Milwaukee traded pitchers Chase Anderson and Zach Davies to help shed salary. They also released Eric Thames to avoid his pending $7 million payday in 2020.

“Franchises get into trouble when they overspend and end up with a mountain of debt,” Attanasio continued. “Then you go into a long period of rebuild.

“This isn’t a media guide, I didn’t commission this statistic, (Milwaukee) is 5th in the National League in wins over our 15 seasons. I give our whole ownership group credit for that because they’ve been supportive of everything we’ve done.”

The Brewers did spend some money in free agency this off-season. Avisaíl García, Brett Anderson, Justin Smoak, Omar Narvaez and Josh Lindblom are all new additions and all of them rank in the top-10 of the team’s payroll.

Garcia is set to make $7 million in 2020.

“You can ask Doug Melvin and David Stearns both, in 15 years I’ve been blessed to have two great people in charge, I’ve never said no to a player acquisition because of cost. Never once because of cost,” Attanasio said.

Looking back at the 2019 payroll, the owner admitted that the team went over their budget for payroll, but stood by not telling his general managers ‘no’ because of cost.

“We had an opportunity with (Grandal) that he came to us without doing a long term deal, and then (Moustakas) was available,” he explained. “We had a budget. That exceeded the budget but we could get Moose, and we got him.

“Really if you look around the edges, and I asked (Stearns) this question, there is nothing that he didn’t do this off-season that he wouldn’t have done if we had a different budget number. He is always free to come to me and say ‘look, I want to do ‘fill-in-the-blank,’ or I want to acquire ‘fill-in-the-blank,’ and I’ve never said no.”

Attanasio did admit that the team would have liked to bring back Grandal, but a deal was never finalized.

“There is nobody we missed this off-season because of price that was on our list,” he said. Then after a short pause, he continued.

“We did want to sign (Grandal), so maybe one.”