Baseball’s offseason continues to trudge along, slowly and painfully. As Ben Diamond explored yesterday for Baseball Prospectus, this has been the cheapest start to free agency since 2009 as just four players having signed deals for $10+ mil AAV so far. The relative inertia isn’t only affecting the open market, either; trades and waiver claims are also at lower levels than they have been in previous seasons.
Like most of the other teams across the league, our own Milwaukee Brewers have yet to accomplish much this winter. Though the owner alluded to a the possibility of an active winter prior to the end of the regular season, so far his team’s biggest outlay has been the $15.5 mil given to Jhoulys Chacin. Only one other player - Yovani Gallardo - has signed a big league deal in the Cream City, and it was non-guaranteed. There have been just a small handful of minor league free agent signings and the lone waiver claim of Dylan Baker, who was later DFA’d and traded to the Dodgers.
For what it’s worth, at least, the paucity of major transactions doesn’t appear to be for lack of effort on the part of Slingin’ David Stearns. He and his cohorts reportedly checked in with Alex Cobb’s camp recently and they’ve also been connected to impact players like Chris Archer, Jake Arrieta, and Whit Merrifield over the last few weeks. According to a report from Hank Schulman, who covers the Giants for the San Francisco Chronicle, Stearns and company continue to explore the trade market as well:
Couple things I heard today: #brewers still interested in dealing OFs Broxton and Santana, tho latter would require a ton back. #pirates might be trying to coordinate deals for Cole, Harrison, McCutchen to ensure the right mix of players coming back. #SFGiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) January 3, 2018
The Giants have been in the market for outfielders all offseason, including previously reported interest in Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton during the Winter Meetings. Schulman’s tweet indicates that the Brewers appear still be engaging in conversations with San Francisco, as well as other teams, about dealing from their plethora of outfielders.
Santana and Broxton both possess tantalizing skill sets but also have clear flaws in their game. Keon hit 20 home runs and swiped 21 bases in just 463 plate appearances in 2017, but an outrageous 37.8% strikeout rate led to a sub-.300 OBP. He has five more years of club control remaining but will turn 28 in May, making him one of the older players in Milwaukee’s outfield mix.
Santana, meanwhile, was Milwaukee’s best offensive player last season. He cranked 30 home runs, stole 15 bases, and walked at a 12% rate while posting a 126 wRC+ across 607 plate appearances. He does strike out at quite a high clip, though (29% in 2017), and has been a poor defender in right field. The Brewers have reportedly been shopping Santana throughout the offseason, but they have placed a high price tag on the 25 year old’s services and obviously have yet to find what they view as a suitable offer.
With the offseason now more than halfway over and Spring Training a mere six weeks away, the Brewers could still stand to bring in upgrades at second base and in both their starting rotation and bullpen. The team could certainly be looking to use their surplus of outfielders to address these needs, and dealing either Santana or Broxton would open a path to more regular playing time for top prospects Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs