The Milwaukee Brewers certainly won’t be sellers this winter, coming off of a 96-win season, an NL Central title, and a trip to game seven of the NLCS. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be open to trading from positions of depth on their big league roster to shed some unneeded salary, create more roster flexibility, and potentially shore up other areas of the team. GM David Stearns told reporters that other organizations are calling the Brewers and asking about some of their players during this week’s Winter Meetings:
#Brewers GM David Stearns said "we are fielding incoming calls in certain areas of depth, and that's normal. The key for us is we're only going to move from areas of depth if we can get meaningful value." That would be OF, 1B and perhaps SP.— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 11, 2018
In the outfield, the Brewers will have decisions to make regarding the futures of Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana. Both players have looked like key cogs for the team at times during their young careers, but each spent extensive time in the minor leagues last year. Broxton has a tantalizing power/speed skill set and grades out as a plus defender in center field, but major strikeout issues make his offensive profile one that is prone to volatility. He hit .179/.281/.410 with four homers in 51 games and 89 plate appearances last year. Santana looked like a breakout star in 2017 after clubbing 30 homers in his age-24 season, but his power vanished last year as he hit .265/.328/.412 with just five homers in 235 PA. He’s limited to the outfield corners defensively. Broxton and Santana are behind Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Ryan Braun on the outfield depth chart, and both players are out of minor league options heading into 2019, making it difficult to keep both players in bench roles.
At first base, Eric Thames is a logical trade candidate as he enters the final guaranteed season of the three-year deal he signed in the winter of 2016. He was off to another hot April start this past season when thumb surgery sidelined him for nearly two months, and by the time he returned Jesus Aguilar has usurped the starting job at the cold corner on his way to an All-Star appearance. Thames played a little in the outfield and though he doesn’t really pass the eye-test out there on defense, advanced metrics viewed him positively on the grass. He struggled to adapt to a part-time role and saw his playing time diminish down the stretch, ultimately finishing with a .219/.306/.478 batting line and 16 homers in 278 plate appearances.
The Brewers are reportedly in the market for a top of the rotation starter, but they also have plenty of starting pitching depth from which they could look to deal from in the right situation. Chase Anderson is the top candidate here after losing his rotation spot down the stretch and getting left off the playoff roster. A change of scenery might do Anderson some good after he coughed up 30 home runs last year, and his $6 mil salary places him alongside Jhoulys Chacin as the highest-paid starting pitcher currently on the roster. It would also make sense for the Brewers to gauge interest in arb-eligible starters Zach Davies and Junior Guerra, and the names Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta come up anytime there is speculation about the Brewers going after an “ace” in trade.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs