The Milwaukee Brewers have taken advantage of their depth by trading away two outfielders, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton. Who else could be traded from this roster?
The Santana trade caught many off guard, and is still a tad controversial, but to get three solid prospects for Broxton given his very limited role with the team was a great deal for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Along with Broxton and Santana, there are other current Milwaukee Brewers players that are in a position where they could be traded. Either due to poor performance or too much depth at that position, there are multiple players that could, and probably should, be either dealt in a trade or just gotten rid of from this team.
The Brewers 2018 season, and particularly the playoff run, displayed just how good and impactful the Brewers young collection of pitchers, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, could be. None of those three were consistently in the starting rotation in 2018, but they will all be competing for starting spots next season, provided that they are not included in a trade.
And that is the biggest X-factor in this rotation; a potential trade or free agent signing, particularly the big names the Brewers have been rumored to be in talks with, Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber. Either one of those guys would require a lot in return, but it would put another lock on a spot in the rotation and push another guy out.
With the Brewers best pitcher from last year, Jhoulys Chacin, returning, the big question mark in Jimmy Nelson returning from injury after a great 2017 season, the three young guys, and then a mix of Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Junior Guerra, the team has work to do to sort this all out.
The Brewers could potentially get something in return for some of these guys, and Chase Anderson and Zach Davies seem to be guys who may be pushed out. After good 2017’s for both of them, 2018 was a big step back.
Anderson could not stop giving up the home run ball, and, after being the opening day starter, was pushed out of the rotation late in the year. Davies, on the other hand, dealt with injuries for most of the year but was not effective when he did pitch, and he also did not make the original playoff roster (he eventually subbed in due to injury, but did not pitch).
Both of these guys have done good things for the Brewers, but with the young talent coming up, and the potential to get a real ace on the market, these two don’t seem to be options that the Brewers should be using in their rotation when they are competing for a World Series. You wouldn’t expect to get quality back in return for them, but then again if you look at the Broxton trade, I think Stearns could find something potentially useful.
Along with the starting pitchers, there are question marks in the bullpen as well, despite how good it was in 2018. Two relievers who were acquired before the 2018 season, Matt Albers and Dan Jennings, both had up and down seasons, but neither made the playoff roster. In April, these two looked like great supplemental pieces to All-Stars Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, but it did not turn out that way down the stretch.
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Although Burnes will most likely not be in the bullpen next year, the Brewers have acquired Alex Claudio, Jake Petricka, and multiple other pitchers in recent deals. Also, the starters who are not put into the rotation could be sent to the bullpen, as Junior Guerra was last season. Brent Suter is also a good bullpen candidate due to the mix of speeds and adding another lefty alongside Hader and Claudio. But that depends on if Suter will be able to return at all in 2019.
The point is that, just like the rotation, there are plenty of names in play for the remaining spots in the bullpen, but they are harder to come by due to the stars that headline the very successful group returning from last season.
On the other side of the ball, the only offensive player that I think the Brewers would potentially get rid of is first baseman Eric Thames. Thames is also the only player I’ve mentioned that I think could bring back a quality return. He is a powerful hitter who can play first and also outfield (although he’s a well below average defender out there).
He started off last year well, having another really good April, although to a lesser degree than his historically good first month in the 2017 season. He had his moments throughout the year, but in general, he just could not find consistency at the plate, finishing with just a .219 batting average and 16 home runs (96 games).
It’s not that Thames is a useless or bad player for the Brewers, but with first base counterpart Jesus Aguilar having an All-Star season last year, enough outfield depth that you (thankfully) don’t need to play him out there, and with him going just 4-28 as a pinch hitter in 2018, you could definitely justify shipping him out to get something like a Sonny Gray in return.
The Brewers have a lot of assets, but they need to start to work some things out with the players they have at positions of depth. They also need to recognize that depth is only a good thing if there is a lot of quality, in terms of the Brewers starting rotation, they need to both add and subtract to that unit if they want it to improve in 2019.
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As always, it will be interesting to see how the Brewers handle their roster before opening day. There are still plenty of question marks, and we will just have to wait for that big trade, signing or release to get a sense of what team David Stearns will be putting on the field in 2019 to try and get back to the postseason and win a World Series title.