The Milwaukee Brewers have been the subject of many rumors for free agents and trades this off season. With Opening Day coming soon, those rumors will only get louder. The roster doesn’t appear to be finished. There is currently a surplus of players in the outfield, a need for a top tier starting pitcher, and the question marks at first base. One player that shouldn’t leave the Brewers under any circumstances is outfielder Brett Phillips.
Brett Phillips played 37 games for the Milwaukee Brewers last year. He came up and went down multiple times from Triple-A. In his time in the Majors, he showed his very high level defensive ability, his power as a left handed bat, and his high energy personality.
The most prevalent trade Phillips has been brought up in is to the Rays for Chris Archer. Archer is going to require a very large trade package from the Milwaukee Brewers. Domingo Santana is expected to go in a deal, but the Brewers should pass if the Rays ask for Phillips too. If he is required by the Rays, the deal isn’t worth it, even for an ace like Archer.
What happens if a deal is struck?
If Santana is traded, then Ryan Braun will drop the first base idea and play the outfield every day. Phillips would be needed as the 4th outfielder. Braun is a guy who will not play every day due to injuries and rest days. Phillips should get plenty of playing time as the first outfielder off the bench.
That is for the present, but for the future, Phillips projects well to being an every day player. The main difference between Santana and Phillips is defense. Santana, as good of a hitter as he is, is a clear defensive liability. He costs the Milwaukee Brewers defensive runs with his play in right field. Phillips on the other hand, has an 80-grade arm by scouts, and has the speed to run down most balls hit near him.
The newfound defensive potential of the Milwaukee Brewers outfield as a whole has been overlooked this off season. An outfield unit of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Phillips could makes a strong case as the best defensive outfield in all of baseball. Yelich is a former Gold Glove award winner. Cain is still a speedy center fielder. Phillips has a cannon for an arm. This trio forms a defensive outfield that pitchers dreams of having behind them. They will save the Brewers a lot of runs.
Also, Phillips will more than likely have the opportunity to surpass Braun as an outfield starter in the near future. As Braun continues to age and Phillips comes into himself as a player, Braun will spend more and more time at first base. However, Phillips will need to really prove that he can produce consistently this season before a true transition can occur.
If Phillips leaves, what happens?
If the Milwaukee Brewers were to become desperate, and trade both Santana and Phillips in a package for Archer, then Keon Broxton would become the fourth outfielder. Broxton received every opportunity to succeed with this team the last two years, but he didn’t come through.
Broxton was among the league leaders in strikeouts last season. Other than a few solid stretches where he hit long home runs and stole bases, he struggled to get on base. He is not a player who deserves playing time on a surging playoff contender.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a lot of talent on their roster. A few moves will need to be occur before Opening Day. The question is, ‘who will it be’, not if it will happen. The Brewers should do whatever they can to get a high level starting pitcher, and Archer is a very good option at this point. Forming a trade package with Santana, and pieces other than Phillips in exchange for Archer is certainly possible. It will just take the Rays being willing to oblige.
If the Rays won’t help out, the Milwaukee Brewers need to move on. However, GM David Stearns will find another way of getting a high level pitcher. That may even go into this season and to the trade deadline. Whatever the Brewers end up doing, trading Phillips is a mistake, and would come back to hurt them in the future.