The Milwaukee Brewers have been busy lately trying to configure what their outfield will look like in the 2018 season. Their longest tenured outfielder, Ryan Braun has been a discussion topic over the last week. News broke that he could move to an infield position in this upcoming season.
When introducing outfielder Lorenzo Cain, both GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell said that they had talked to Ryan Braun about the possibility of playing first base. They said that Braun was open to this, but they weren’t making any concrete statements yet.
On Sunday at the Brewers fan fest “Brewers on Deck,” Braun spoke to reporters. He claimed that another position that he could possibly play is second base. This brings up a whole new list of possibilities for the Milwaukee Brewers lineup if he were to play there. However, it would require a lot of defensive work.
Has Braun played in the infield before?
Braun came into the league as a third basemen. He also claimed to have fond memories of playing infield when he was younger, but not so much at third base. He has never played first base in his career. However, he is confident that he can work to get up to a high defensive level.
For Braun to be so open to a major positional change shows how much he wants to be with this team. Braun has been the subject of many trade rumors, but a trade for him is very unlikely. A move to the infield would make a trade unnecessary.
Why move Braun?
The biggest reason for this move is due to the surplus of outfielders the Brewers have on the roster as of right now. The newest Brewers, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain surely have center field and one corner spot locked up. That leaves one corner outfield spot for Braun, Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, or Keon Broxton.
Braun is a veteran with a lot of valuable experience. He is too good to sit on the bench. However if the Milwaukee Brewers can move Braun to another position, they can allow great talents like Santana to stay, and then a guy like Phillips or Braun himself to fill in for any outfielder that needs an off day or is out due to injury.
As far as the defensive change, it would be a significant change for anyone, especially for a veteran like Braun who has been in the outfield for many years now. Braun does have infield experience at the Major League level. He knows what it’s like to play in the infield, but he’ll still need to make adjustments.
Braun does seem dedicated to get it done, if he’s asked to. He said himself that he was the one who came to Stearns and asked if second base was a possibility. Braun appears motivated to get this done. It is unlikely that he will play second base on Opening Day, but the fact that he asked is important.
What about the rest of the roster?
As far as what this means for other players on the team, it could potentially set up other roster moves. If Braun moves to first base, it leaves the Milwaukee Brewers with Braun, Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar at first base.
That’s three productive first basemen who could start on a lot of teams. One of either Thames or Aguilar would most likely be traded. Dealing one of them is still a risk because with the Milwaukee Brewers are putting their faith in Braun to succeed at first.
If Braun were to take the leap of faith and actually play second base, it wouldn’t necessarily mean either Jonathan Villar or Eric Sogard would move on. Neither of them are surefire everyday starters. Both would still get playing time with off days and the injuries Braun deals with.
The Brewers have many roster decision to make, and Braun moving positions is one of the biggest wildcards. Second base is the more unlikely, but also the option that would fit the most with this team. The most likely move would be for Braun to be at first base.
The rest of the off season is going to be very interesting no matter what the Milwaukee Brewers decide to do with Braun. We do know that Braun is willing to make a change. Whether he is in the outfield or infield next season, he will be a part of this team in 2018 along with many exciting young players.