Last season, the Milwaukee Brewers had a record of 86-76, putting them 6 games behind the division leading Chicago Cubs. More importantly, though, this record placed the Brewers only one game behind the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot in the NL. Only one game separated the Brewers and a chance in the playoffs, and from their recent offseason acquisitions, the Brewers clearly aren’t going to let that happen for a second year in a row.
The Brewers made a huge splash yesterday by acquiring CF Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins.
The trade that the Brewers made for Christian Yelich sent four prospects over to the Marlins. These prospects were OF Lewis Brinson, OF Monte Harrison, INF Isan Diaz, and RHP Jordan Yamamoto. This is a huge haul of prospects to give up. Brinson was the Brewers’ number one prospect in their farm system, and Diaz was their sixth ranked propsect. Harrison is an up and coming prospect who will be ranked in MLB’s top 100 prospects, and Yamamoto is coming off a good minor league season in 2017.
It is understandable that the Marlins would want a lot in return for Yelich, as he is under control through 2021, with a club option for 2022. He will only cost the Brewers a total of around $58 million with that club option. However, depleting the top of one’s farm system is a big commitment, and it shows that the Brewers are currently playing for the short term rather than the long term.
Although they unloaded some key pieces at the top of the farm system, the Brewers were able to make this move because of their depth. 2B Keston Hiura, the Brewers’ first round pick from last year, has already been invited to Spring Training after tearing up the Minor Leagues in 2017. They also have top ten prospect Mauricio Dubon at second base. The upsides of both Hiura and Dubon made Diaz expendable.
Losing two top outfield prospects in Brinson and Harrison hurts, but the Brewers again have depth in this area. They added Yelich to an outfield that already boasts Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, and Brett Phillips.
Milwaukee didn’t stop there.
Shortly after trading for Yelich, the Brewers signed CF Lorenzo Cain in free agency. Cain agreed to a 5 year/$80 million dollar deal with the Brewers, making him the highest paid free agent thus far.
Cain not only gives the Brewers more outfield depth, but he also gives them options. For starters, Cain will provide steady production. He finished 2017 with a batting average of .300, 15 home runs, and 49 runs batted in. Cain has never been a player who has hit for much power, but he does from last season. If Keon Broxton could score 66 runs with an OBP of only .299, imagine the amount of runs that Cain could score for the Brewers.
Now defensively, Cain also will be an improvement. Cain has been revered for his prowess when it comes to platooning centerfield. He can cover great distances, allowing him to make plays with ease that other ordinary centerfielders can’t make at all. This just becomes even more evident when looking at each players’ defensive runs saved stat. Cain had a DRS of +5 last season while Broxton, for example, had a DRS of -8. This means that if Cain were in the Brewers outfield last season, he would have saved the Brewers 13 runs. 13 runs are a lot, especially when it comes to one run ball games, and getting knocked out of the second Wild Card spot by only one game.
With all of this depth, more moves could be on the horizon. They could look to move Ryan Braun to first base and trade Eric Thames, they could try to trade Braun, or they could look to move Domingo Santana. Santana will have the highest value because of the outstanding year he had in 2017. Trading a piece such as Santana could help the Brewers acquire starting pitching, which is really all they need to be fortified contenders in the NL.
By: Logan Stevens