Yesterday morning, the Milwaukee Brewers optioned outfielder Domingo Santana for infielder Brad Miller. Santana’s struggles thus far finally hit a boiling point with the organization. This move highlights the misuse of a former breakout star and the consequences that arise because of it.
Oh what could have been.
Domingo Santana ran away with the starting job in right field in 2017. The 25 year old flashed his potential, finishing the year with a .371 OBP and .505 SLG percentage, along with 30 home runs and 15 steals. Santana was a solid prospect in the minors with raw power and speed. This type of breakout was not unexpected. Yet his struggles with striking out scattered doubters throughout the MLB landscape.
In his first stint with the Brewers in 2016, Santana was who we thought he was. Once given the full time job, however, Domingo turned in a breakout performance. He was still exceptional despite his strikeout rate rising in the second half of the 2017 season. His slash line reflected more of the three true outcomes player he is yet he displayed elite power. His numbers showed no obvious signs of decline, just a promising prospect capitalizing on playing time.
Yet the Milwaukee Brewers seemed to think otherwise. They essentially replaced Santana’s spot in 2018 by acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain over the offseason. Milwaukee also made a point of playing a declining Ryan Braun on name value alone.
The logjam in the outfield restricted the streaky Santana, preventing him from finding his swing after experiencing early failures. As a result, Domingo’s stock plummeted thanks to the Brewers’ mishandling of their young outfielder.
Dealing with the Logjam
The organization’s decision making with the 25 year old leaves unanswered questions.
First, what was the reasoning behind adding so much to the stable of outfielders already in Milwaukee? The Brewers had other holes they needed to patch yet spent assets to fill occupied spots.
Which brings on the next question. If the Yelich and Cain deals were to bring in established stars, why not deal the one year wonder to fill needs at second or in the rotation? Domingo Santana was arguably at peak trade value last year and it reflected in the number of teams checking in on his availability.
Now, after facilitating Santana’s disappointing 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers have dug themselves a hole. They are stuck with a former impact bat in the minors with no confidence or trade value. The best hope for the Brewers is consistent playing time in Colorado helps Domingo find his footing.
However, even if that is the case, his trade value will never match last year’s barring exceptional performance in the majors. Milwaukee can only hope Santana regains his swing from 2017 before season’s end.