Milwaukee Brewers: Assessing the 2018 outfield situation

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 09: Brett Phillips
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 09: Brett Phillips /

It’s that time of year again folks! The time when the snow starts falling, along with the temperatures, and MLB’s hot stove turns into a raging inferno. Yup, it’s Winter Meetings week, and the Milwaukee Brewers are right in the middle of it all.

I digress, I’m not here to talk about the Winter Meetings. I’m here to give you a vision of what the Milwaukee Brewers outfield should look like heading into Spring Training. Milwaukee is active in the trade market and it wouldn’t surprise anybody to see them make a move. Unfortunately, Ryan Braun will still be wearing Brewer Blue.

At this point, it will be hard for the Brewers to trade Braun. His production slipped mightily in 2017, and he’s still owed a boatload of cash. Plenty of people think the Crew should trade Lewis Brinson or Brett Phillips as part of a package for a starting pitcher. However, that would be a questionable move for a small market team like Milwaukee.

The right move, possibly the only move besides trading Braun, is trading Domingo Santana. I know what you’re going to say. However, before you start ranting about his 30 home runs in ’17, please hear me out.

Santana had a hell of a season for Milwaukee last year, hitting .278 and driving in 85 runs. Nobody can dispute his impact with the Brewers in 2017. That’s precisely the reason the Brewers need to strike while iron is hot, and move on with a new rightfielder in 2018.

While the Milwaukee Brewers control his salary for this season, he stands to get a hefty raise when he hits arbitration following next season. Having three more years of team control also adds a lot of value for the Brewers should they decide to trade him. With the quality of depth in the outfield throughout the organization, it makes no sense to hang onto Santana.

What should happen?

It goes beyond saying that Phillips proved he’s a Major Leaguer down the stretch last season. About the only thing Santana brings defensively is his tremendous throwing arm. However, he looks like Juan Pierre throwing when matched up against Phillips’ cannon. On top of his throwing arm, Phillips will be able to help cover up the defensive deficiency that is Braun in left field with his ability to cover ground from the gap to foul line. It sure will be nice to have a natural centerfielder playing in right.

Now this is where it gets a little bit tricky for the Milwaukee Brewers. Last season Keon Broxton was abysmal as the Brewers centerfielder. He shouldn’t be the main centerfielder, however he has earned his opportunities to play. Broxton provides solid defense in center, and when he gets in a groove at the plate, he can do damage. His speed on the basepaths makes every pitching staff take notice, and that speed also helps him save runs in center.

However, the man who should be playing centerfield regularly for the Brewers in ’18 is top prospect Lewis Brinson. Although he didn’t do much to impress in his short stint last season, Brinson has star written all over him. He’s better than average in center, and runs like a gazelle, so he’ll also help cover up that aforementioned deficiency in left.

It goes beyond Phillips or Brinson for the Milwaukee Brewers outfield depth. Corey Ray and Monte Harrison aren’t far from the Majors either, providing even more youthful depth for the future. The minor league system is full of players capable of playing the corner outfield positions.

Next: Is there a deal Brewing with the Pirates?

Trading Santana represents an opportunity to improve the team from a position of strength. Holding onto him has the possibility of stunting the growth of the next Milwaukee Brewers superstar. If a move is to be made involving an outfielder this winter, Santana should be the one packing his bags.