It has been reported throughout the winter that the Milwaukee Brewers are shopping Domingo Santana. He was the club’s best offensive player last season, slashing an excellent .278/.371/.505 with 31 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 151 games en route to a team-leading 126 wRC+. He’s only 25 and still has another four seasons of club control (including one at the league minimum salary), which ought to make him quite a valuable commodity. But thanks in part to a high strikeout rate (29.3% in 2017) and poor grades defensively in the outfield (-5 DRS in 1211.1 innings in 2017), David Stearns has’t had any luck in dealing the young slugger just yet.
The desire to move Santana - or another outfielder - turned into an even more pressing need in late January when the Brewers inked Lorenzo Cain to play center field and made a deal with Miami to bring in Christian Yelich to man a corner spot. Yet here we are nearly three weeks later, and the Brewers still have six MLB-capable outfielders - Santana, Yelich, Cain, Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, and Brett Phillips - on the roster with pitchers and catchers set to report next week. That the logjam persists isn’t for lack of trying on the part of Stearns, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Per Cafardo, the Diamondbacks have had heavy interest in Santana this winter but Milwaukee was targeting one of their starting pitchers in any possible trade. According to the report, it was believed that the pitcher the team “had their sights on” was Patrick Corbin, but “the Brewers were rebuffed” according to Cafardo. It was reported earlier this offseason that Milwaukee and Arizona have had “extensive” talks surrounding Corbin.
It’s tough to evaluate without knowing the full extent of the offer for both sides, but on the surface a straight swap of Santana and the lefty Corbin would seem to heavily favor the Diamondbacks. Santana is an inexpensive player under long-term control who has been quite productive, although perhaps a bit flawed. Corbin, 28, comes with only one year of contractual control remaining and posted a 4.03 ERA and 97 DRA- across 189.2 innings pitched last season. He missed all of 2014 and half of 2015 with Tommy John surgery and has pitched to a middling 4.35 ERA in 85 appearances since his return. There’s no indication whether or not the talks are ongoing, but Cafardo does not that the Brewers are still looking to flip an outfielder - namely Santana or Broxton - for a starting pitcher.
Also within Cafardo’s post are a couple of other notes regarding the Cream City Nine. First, he suggests that there has been some rumblings about the Red Sox taking a look at Ryan Braun as an alternative to shelling out big money for free agent J.D. Martinez. Braun, 34, is coming off the worst season of his career after battling through injuries in 2017. He was limited to 104 games and batted .268/.336/.487 for a career-low 110 wRC+. He did slug 17 home runs, though, while his strikeout and walks rates were both better than his career norms and he posted the second-highest hard contact rate (39%) of his distinguished career. If he can stay healthy in 2018, there’s reason to believe Braun could be a bounce back candidate. He’s owed another $57 mil over the next three seasons, but has earned full no-trade rights as a 10-5 player and has publicly stated he’d only really consider waiving it to join his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. As things stand now, Braun figures to be a part of an outfield rotation with Santana, Cain, and Yelich as well as spell Eric Thames at first base against left-handed starters.
Finally, Cafardo joins the long list of reporters that have linked the Brewers to Tampa Bay pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Cafardo says the former Brewer prospect is currently getting even more attention than teammate Chris Archer on the trade market and that it appears that “the Rays are ready to unload him.” Milwaukee, along with the Orioles, Twins, and Yankees, are teams believed to have made inquiries regarding the soon-to-be 28 year old, who is coming off a season in which he posted a 4.14 ERA and 100 DRA- while logging 143.1 innings. Odorizzi is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season and will draw a salary in excess of $6 mil in arbitration during the upcoming campaign. The Brewers are reportedly “intent” on landing another starting pitcher before the season begins and Odorizzi is one of a myriad of different trade and free agent targets that have been mentioned.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus