After making aggressive moves for Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, the Milwaukee Brewers probably aren’t done dealing this winter.
The Milwaukee Brewers took the MLB offseason from zero to a hundred real quick on Thursday night, trading for Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and signing All-Star center fielder Lorenzo Cain to a five-year deal. With a logjam of young outfielders on their roster, the Brewers still have several moves to make before the offseason ends, and their focus will be on adding at least one starting pitcher.
With Yelich and Cain in the fold, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips are all now men without a position in Milwaukee (hint to MLBPA — push really, really hard for a universal DH next time the CBA is up). All three are young, skilled and retain upside. Each is good enough in his own right to start for nearly any team in the league and more than good enough to headline a package for an established starting pitcher.
The team will continue listening to offers on Santana, as well as outfielders Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips, as it searches for starting pitching. But club officials acquired Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on Thursday with the idea of them joining Santana to form potentially the best outfield in baseball, major league sources say.
At 25 and coming off a 30-homer season with an OPS of .875, Santana should be the most attractive trade chip of the bunch. He is not a great defender in right field, but not terrible. Santana also stole 15 bases last year and walked 73 times. Strikeouts can be an issue for him, but he does not whiff at an extremely alarming rate. Broxton played his first full year in the big leagues last year at the age of 27 and hit 20 home runs with 21 stolen bases. There is still upside where Broxton is concerned, but he needs to improve his plate discipline and cut down on his strikeouts to reach his full potential. Phillips made his debut last year at the age of 23 and held his own at the plate while playing great defense. He is a career .283/.363/.482 hitter in the minor leagues with 68 home runs and 73 stolen bases in 574 games.
The most obvious target for the Brewers on the trade market is Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer. He fits within the likely budgetary constraints of the smaller-market franchise and is signed through 2021. The Rays don’t have to be in a hurry to trade Archer, but a hitter like Santana would certainly help light a fire under them to get a deal done this offseason.
In addition to trading from their considerable outfield depth, look for the Brewers to remain engaged on free agents Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. With less than $85 million committed to their roster for 2018, the Brewers still have flexibility to add a high-priced free agent.