Last week, the Milwaukee Brewers did something very few teams have done this offseason: They got better. The Brewers traded a four-prospect package for Christian Yelich, then signed Lorenzo Cain to a five-year contract. The Brew Crew added two impact players within an hour of each other.
The Yelich and Cain additions give the Brewers a glut of outfielders. Those two join Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, and Brett Phillips on the outfield depth chart. , likely for rotation help.
In the meantime, the Brewers are trying to come up with ways for all their outfielders to coexist, including moving Braun to another position. He's open to whatever, and that includes playing second base, a position he's never played in the majors or minors.
Ryan Braun says he's open to trying not only first base but also second base in spring training. "We’ve had a few conversations about second base, a few conversations about first base. I’ll play wherever they want me to play," he said this morning at Brewers On Deck.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) January 28, 2018
Braun started his college career as a shortstop before shifting to third base. He came up through the minors as a third baseman and played the position during his rookie season in 2007, when he was named the NL Rookie of the Year. The Brewers moved Braun to left field the next season because his defense at the hot corner was so bad.
To really drive home the point, here are the worst defensive seasons by a third baseman according to Defensive Runs Saved, which has data dating back to 2002:
- Ryan Braun, 2007 Brewers: -32 runs saved
- Nicholas Castellanos, 2014 Tigers: -30 runs saved
- Garrett Atkins, 2007 Rockies: -26 runs saved
- Mark Teahen, 2005 Royals: -21 runs saved
- Mark Reynolds, 2011 Orioles: -20 runs saved
A case can be made Braun is responsible for the worst defensive season by a third baseman this century. Now the Brewers are thinking about moving him to second base -- a position that requires more mobility -- 11 years after his disaster at third, at age 34? Yikes.
The Brewers and Braun are discussing second base because Jonathan Villar, who was so great in 2016, was so terrible in 2017. So terrible they picked up Neil Walker at the trade deadline and installed him at the position. Walker is a free agent and Villar remains on the roster, but he's going to have to earn back playing time.
Of course, the Brewers haven't committed to anything yet. It never hurts to toss ideas around, even far-fetched ideas like Braun at second base. Point is, the team is looking for a way to make this work. They're at their best with Braun and Santana in the lineup alongside Yelich and Cain, and they're trying to find ways to make it happen.