With less than two weeks remaining before the calendar flips to the year 2023, the Milwaukee Brewers roster is starting to take shape. With that comes an outfield that is set to look different than the one fans saw last year.
Just think about how it looked so start the 2022 season. At that point, from left to right, you had a starting outfield of Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Hunter Renfroe. Andrew McCutchen was there as well, though mostly to play designated hitter, as was Tyrone Taylor.
Now, only two of those players remain on the team's roster: Yelich and Taylor.
A trio of outfielders have taken the others' place. Garrett Mitchell is here after an exciting late-season debut in 2022. Jesse Winker has come over from the Mariners, though like McCutchen he could play a good amount of DH. And Blake Perkins was signed as a free agent for some added depth.
But is that enough? Should the Brewers still go out and bring in one more outfielder for the 2023 season?
Right now, the five aforementioned outfielders are all the Brewers have on the 40-man roster. Though some may be added in the coming months, there are no minor leaguer outfielders on the roster as backups that can be optioned back and forth as needed.
Yelich and Mitchell will likely be two outfielders receiving a good amount of playing time at left and center, respectively. Winker could see some time in right, and would be a decent offensive replacement there for Renfroe if he returns to form, but would be a big step back defensively. So again, DH may be much more a part of his future.
So if Winker is mostly playing DH, then that leaves Taylor as the most likely Renfroe replacement in the starting lineup. But is a player with a career .241/.303/.453 slash line over four seasons who you really want taking over for Renfroe?
Now the Brewers could also add a couple more young minor league outfielders to the mix. Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer both finished with good numbers at Triple-A and appear right on the verge of the majors. Fans are clamoring to see them in a Brewer uniform.
But would that leave Milwaukee too young in the outfield? There is no guarantee that players like Frelick and Wiemer, or even Mitchell for that matter despite the cup of coffee he had with the Brewers last season, will be serviceable MLB players immediately.
So, outside of working some of their many utility players into the mix, it may behoove the Brewers to explore what's left on the free agent market. Players like Wil Myers and Tyler Naquin remain on the market as options that could be somewhat affordable, as does Michael Conforto, though he would cost some money.
The question, then, is whether it makes more sense to stabilize the outfield a little more with a veteran outfielder or whether they believe they have enough to do so already in the organization. If the answer is the former of those choices, then they need to ensure they have some money left over to spend after arbitration eligible players (and maybe extension candidates?) get their raises this offseason.
The smart money could be on the Brewers still adding some outfield depth as they've seemed to love having that in the past. Whether that depth comes from inside or outside of the organization will remain to be seen.