Did the Brewers trade Khris Davis too soon?
Khris Davis jumped on the scene in 2013 hitting 11 home runs in only 136 at-bats for the Brewers down the stretch. The emersion of Davis led to the trade of fan favorite Nori Aoki. This opened the door for Davis to have his first full season in the big leagues. In 2014, it was an up and down year for Davis. Through May 20th of 2014, Davis had an uninspiring slash line of .219/.250/.388. Overall he finished the 2014 season hitting .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 rbi’s.
Then 2015 came.
2015 was a year in which Davis “broke out.” Due to right knee surgery in June, Davis only had 392 at bats, but that didn’t stop him from raking. He hit 27 home runs with a slash line of .247/.323/.505. All of those stats besides his batting average improved considerably. He solidified himself as a top power threat in the National League.
As we all know over the past year, the Brewers have found themselves rebuilding. They have a lot of prospects major league ready, or near major league ready, outfield prospects in Domingo Santana, Rhymer Liriano, Ramon Flores, Brett Phillips, Keon Broxton and Michael Reed. Santana, 23, enjoyed a nice cameo with the Brewers in 2015. In 121 at-bats, he hit 6 home runs and had a slash line of .231/.345/.421. Santana, who played centerfield for the Brewers last year, was only put there just so he can get his at-bats. We all knew he was out of position and was more of a corner outfielder.
As this offseason went along, David Stearns and Craig Counsell made it clear that Santana would not be their everyday centerfielder during the 2016 season. There was no clear spot for Santana since Khris Davis and Ryan Braun were locked in corner outfield positions.
If there was any time for Khris Davis to be dealt, it was now.
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In today’s game, right-handed power hitters are at a premium. Add to that the fact that Davis is under club control for the next four seasons, you have yourself a trade piece with good value. It showed with the return Davis brought from Oakland. They received one of the best catching prospects in the minors in Jacob Nottingham, who will likely be Jonathan Lucroy’s successor. They also received Bubba Derby and it adds yet another talented arm to one of the best farm systems in baseball. David Stearns struck while the iron was hot, and he delivered.
It’s important that Domingo Santana gets regular playing time as a major leaguer. It doesn’t make sense to send him down to AAA or sit him on the bench. Both wouldn’t do anything to help his development. Moving Braun would be tough because of his salary. That’s why it is good David Stearns traded “Khrush” now rather than later. Trading Davis was the most realistic way to get Santana his at-bats.
When teams have depth like the Brewers do, General Managers are tasked with trading from their depth. Ultimately, that is what David Stearns did. Now with Santana and Braun manning the corner outfield spots, they’ll need to find a stopgap in Centerfield until Brett Phillips, one of the best outfield prospects in baseball, is ready. Even though they are rebuilding, it is an exciting time to be a Milwaukee Brewers fan.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference