Back in mid-2013, the Brewers traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles and received third base prospect Nick Delmonico in return. At the time, it was pretty exciting: He was a top-10 prospect in Baltimore's system, was projected for above-average power, and played a position of need.
Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and Delmonico has been released and the Brewers still have no third baseman of the future. And that's not of just the distant future; who knows who is going to play the position after 2015?
For now, the Brewers have been getting by with Aramis Ramirez. He's worked out well, too, with a .291/.352/.482 line over the last three years, though his production has dropped each subsequent season since signing. Despite the dropping stats and the increasing age, the Brewers picked up his $14 million option for 2015. It was probably a no-brainer, too -- they have nobody else to step in and play the position.
With Delmonico gone, the Brewers legitimately have no third base prospects. Or at least, they have none that are anywhere close to the majors: Gilbert Lara looks like a future third baseman but at just 17 years old there is no way to count on him even making the majors. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Jason Rogers has played the hot corner and is major league ready, but his defense is questionable and it's unsure his bat can play in the majors. Rogers has always hit well in the minors, though not as good as former underrated prospect Khris Davis. Would the Brewers be willing to chance him at third in 2016?
More likely, the Brewers will look for a more reliable player to take over at third base after 2015. Unfortunately for them, the third base market next year is...poor, to say the least. The best available will likely be David Freese, Mike Aviles, Casey McGehee and Aramis Ramirez himself.
Perhaps the most likely scenario is moving Jean Segura or someone else to third base. Segura is a strong defensive shortstop, but Manny Machado was a good shortstop who moved to third base for the Orioles and is now one of the best at the position. Perhaps the same scenario could play out with the Brewers. They would then need to find a shortstop, though they have more prospects there than they do at third base, including Luis Sardinas and Orlando Arcia. Whether that would be ideal so soon is debatable.
Alternatively, the Brewers could move Sardinas to third base. The recently acquired infielder has a strong arm and a good defensive reputation, but his bat would be among the weakest at the position in all likelihood. Or perhaps Luis Jimenez will show this upcoming season that he is worthy of an expanded role.
Segura, Rogers, Sardinas or Jimenez would at least give the Brewers a more long-term option, minimizing the issues of having no prospects who can play the hot corner. However, there are risks involved with all and no guarantee any of the latter three could play well enough to deserve a starting spot.
In the short term, it's possible the Brewers look at bringing back Ramirez again to bridge to an heir at third base. Again, that may depend on if Ramirez proves he can still hold his own next season. He's also not the most reliable in terms of health, so having a solid back-up would be important.
Right now, the Brewers future at third base is extremely unclear. They're set in 2015, but after that who knows what will happen. Perhaps the upcoming season will clear things up as a Sardinas or a Jimenez steps up and forces the Brewers to expand their role. If not, though, the Brewers are going to have their work cut out finding someone new to take over third base.