The Hot Stove is still very hot as we get past the Winter Meetings and into the middle of December. Before things cool down over Christmas, rumors are coming out all the time. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly looking to make a trade of a veteran outfielder that could catch the Brewers interest.
Earlier on Friday, the Minnesota Twins signed Joey Gallo to a one year deal to be their likely right fielder. Incumbent right fielder Max Kepler is now a clear trade target and the Twins are receiving heavy interest from across the league.
With the Twins likely looking to trade outfielder Max Kepler, the Milwaukee Brewers could easily get involved in his market.
While the Brewers haven't specifically been connected to Kepler's market, they do make some sense as a destination for the left-handed hitting outfielder.
It's already been reported that the Brewers were engaged in conversations with the Arizona Diamondbacks about trading for an outfielder of theirs. If the Brewers are looking at potential outfield additions, a pursuit of Kepler does seem to make sense.
Max Kepler has one year left on his contract with an $8.5MM salary to go along with a club option for 2024 for $10MM with a $1MM buyout.
Last season, Kepler hit just .227/.318/.348 with nine homers as he dealt with some injuries. Kepler slugged 19 homers in 2021 and hit 36 homers in 2019. The power is in there and playing with the short porch in right field at American Family Field would help him if he becomes a Brewer.
You may look at that low batting average and OBP and think "no thank you" but there's cause for optimism. Kepler is one of the most shifted players in baseball, seeing shifts on 90% or more of his plate appearances in the last three seasons. He put the ball on the ground more in 2022 as well which didn't help him hitting into that shift. But the extreme shifts that he's seen in recent years are outlawed starting in 2023.
Kepler will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new shift rules across baseball and with Minnesota likely looking to move on, the Brewers could be the benficiary of his bounceback if they so choose.
Kepler is an excellent defender and would be a suitable replacement for Hunter Renfroe in right field and an upgrade over Tyrone Taylor. He'd be slightly cheaper than Renfroe at an $8.5MM salary and because he's only guaranteed for one year, he wouldn't block Joey Wiemer in the long run. Wiemer likely won't be ready to take over at the beginning of the season and acquiring Kepler would allow Milwaukee to be as patient as they need to be with Wiemer.
While the high levels of interest across the league may drive up the price to acquire Kepler, he still won't cost an exorbitant amount since he's coming off a down year and only has one year plus an option remaining on his contract.
Keep an eye on the Max Kepler market as an under the radar one for the Brewers to be involved in.