The Milwaukee Brewers want teams to believe they are comfortable heading into 2018 Opening Day with their current roster. But they should at least trade Jesus Aguilar to help outfield logjam and help Ryan Braun.
The Brewers have six quality outfielders (Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, and Brett Phillips) on their depth chart. Furthermore, they have two quality first basemen (Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar).
At Brewers on Deck, Braun said he would be open to learning first base to help create at-bats for his young outfielder teammates.
"“We’ll communicate about it, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of dialogue as we go, see how things are going, see how our roster develops,” -Ryan Braun"
Reports have since confirmed Braun will get reps and learn first base during Spring.
Ryan Braun’s transition to first base helps the logjam in the outfield, but it creates another one at first base.
Should Milwaukee Brewers trade Eric Thames or Jesus Aguilar?
If the Milwaukee Brewers cannot trade any outfielders, Braun will likely get innings at first base. If the Brewers do trade an outfielder or two for a key pitching upgrade, moving some of Braun’s innings to first base is still a good idea.
Braun is aging and has dealt with lingering injuries most of his career. Playing some games at first base could lighten the beating on his body and keep him sharper as a hitter. Increasing Braun’s health potential and hitting efficiency is a good idea no matter what the rest of the roster looks like.
That being said, the Brewers already have a workable first base platoon with Thames and Aguilar. The Brewers first base position ranked fifth in the league in OPS last year.
Milwaukee Brewers General Manager David Stearns and Manager Craig Counsell have one of those good problems. They have to find at-bats for all of these good players. Pushing out a first baseman instead of an outfielder makes more sense. Ryan Braun is the reason.
Moving Braun to first for some innings creates more at-bats for the other outfielders, and it theoretically keeps Braun healthy and sharper. But this leads to the next conundrum. How should the Milwaukee Brewers allocate at-bats at first base now with the successful Thames/Aguilar platoon and Braun?
The Milwaukee Brewers should trade one of their 2017 first basemen.
Who should the Milwaukee Brewers trade Eric Thames or Jesus Aguilar for?
Reviewing the Brew already pondered the question of trading Thames or Aguilar. Time, however, has passed. The Brewers could still make a big splash by trading Thames to a team that does not sign Eric Hosmer. But what would the current market for Jesus Aguilar look like?
The Seattle Mariners expected to get good production from first baseman Ryon Healy in 2018. However, Healy recently underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his hand. The injury will keep Healy out of game action for four-six weeks.
Healy’s immediate backups are Daniel Vogelbach and Rule 5 pick Mike Ford. Neither player has a proven track record.
Perhaps the Mariners would be interested in trading for Jesus Aguilar to help out at first base until Healy returns to health.
Aguilar’s bat is not as potent as Thames’. But, Milwaukee Brewers David Steans could get creative here.
Perhaps Aguilar could fetch some International Pool money or straight cash. The Milwaukee Brewers could then use that boost to improve the club with a surprise free agent signing.
The Milwaukee Brewers could make themselves better by splurging on a high-quality reliever such as Greg Holland or buying low on former catcher Jonathon Lucroy.
Options still abound for the Milwaukee Brewers during this unique offseason.