Since the departure of Prince Fielder the Milwaukee Brewers have not had stability at first base.
From 2012 to the present, names such as Mark Reynolds, Chris Carter, Adam Lind, Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar, Daniel Vogelbach, and Rowdy Tellez have come and gone after brief stints with the team. Tellez was the only player on that list to be the Opening Day starter for consecutive seasons, but even he was unfortunately non-tendered by the Crew earlier this offseason.
Over that time frame, Milwaukee has even attempted to have players transition to first base. Ryan Braun was the biggest name to try the move. During his playing days the National League did not have a designated hitter, so getting him out of the outfield and saving his legs was a priority. He ultimately never fully transitioned over and appeared in just 19 games as a first baseman.
Fast forward to this current offseason and one popular speculation was that Christian Yelich should move to first base. This thinking revolved around the facts that Milwaukee has a crowded outfield in which their younger prospects are better defenders and have stronger throwing arms. Additionally, the Brewers currently do not have an everyday first baseman.
During Winter Meetings Matt Arnold provided his thoughts on the possibility of Christian Yelich moving to first base as he spoke to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
Matt Arnold confirms that Christian Yelich will continue to be an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers.
According to GM Matt Arnold, there is no plan to move Christian Yelich to the infield. Rather he will continue to get playing time as a left fielder and log at-bats as the designated hitter. This combination worked well for him a season ago when he returned to being an impactful bat at the top of the lineup while also stealing 28 bases.
This may not be the news that some fans wanted to hear, but some good news is that Arnold did not rule out the possibility of a reunion with current free agent Carlos Santana. He also specifically mentioned that prospect Tyler Black is an exciting option to consider and that he could break camp with the team.
"He's been a guy that's done a wonderful job for us in the past. It was great to have him in our clubhouse. He's a really popular guy that would be a fit anywhere."- Matt Arnold on Carlos Santana
"“He can do a lot of things. His ability to play third, first, outfield if needed, DH. He’s so athletic. He’s really talented and we’re really excited about him wherever he winds up. … He’s a really good hitter. It’s fun to watch.”"- Matt Arnold on Tyler Black
Outside of all that the Brewers also currently have power hitting Jake Bauers to take into consideration as well. He presumably will not get an immediate shot at everyday playing time, but if he performs well it would not be out of the question to see him start there more often often than not.
Similar to a season ago, where Tellez, Luke Voit, Darin Ruf, Owen Miller, and Santana all made starts at first base, the reality is that Milwaukee could elect to utilize their depth and use a next man up approach. Top 2023 draft picks Brock Wilken and Mike Boeve are first baseman and given their potential to move up through the farm system quickly, going out and acquiring someone else that would block their path to the big leagues may not make a ton of sense.