Brewers Shake-up Headlined by Christian Yelich Trade

Christian Yelich

As the news broke Thursday about the Christian Yelich trade the Milwaukee picture seemed to come into focus. Yelich would fill out the final outfield spot alongside Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana and that outfield would have one of the most lethal power speed combinations found in the majors.

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Then the Brewers doubled down and signed free agent Lorenzo Cain to a long term deal and suddenly that outfield was cast into some shadow. Four outfielders filling tree spots and no DH position doesn’t work for one of those guys. It is likely the two new acquisitions will be playing regularly so that leaves Braun and Santana as the potential odd men out in that outfield. Let’s now take a look at how the moves will affect those Brewers and also look at the potential for the guys going to Miami in the Yelich trade.

Let’s start with Christian Yelich who I had kind of buried down outside my top 25 in the 7th outfield tier in my recent rankings. I had him down there because his surrounding cast in Miami was really bad but that all changes now as he will lead off in a team full of power. This move takes Yelich at least into the 5th tier alongside former teammate Marcell Ozuna. I could make the case for him in the 4th tier alongside new team mate Ryan Braun, which puts him firmly in my top 15 and very close to my top 12.

The reason why he could move into that 4th tier is that if he can repeat the decreased ground ball numbers of 2017 then we could see a guy who is now a 20-home run threat with the potential to steal 15ish bases, hit in the region of 0.290 to 0.300 and score 100 plus runs. The only way he could be ranked higher is if he hits two or three in that line-up and also becomes an RBI threat. Right now I think he falls short of my ideal 200 combined runs and RBI number but with the 20-15 power –steals potential backed up by the average he should be a good options as your low end number one high end number two outfielder.

Lorenzo Cain

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Lorenzo Cain is the other big winner going from pretty much unrankable with no clear role to a guy who could rank right up there with Yelich. They are remarkably similar players but with Cain more likely to be 20+ steals and 15ish home runs. Both guys could hit either one or two in this order and whoever is two, Cain is currently projected there, has a great shot for 200 combined runs and RBI. Cain can also hit close to 0.300 and immediately becomes an ideal number two outfielder to give you five category production and set you up nicely to be able to go best player available for a few rounds.

The big loser here is Domingo Santana who is likely to be the casualty in that outfield and drops like a stone. Even projecting him aggressively for 80 games drops him right down the rankings where he suddenly becomes nothing more than a late round draft day flyer in the hope of injury. Santana is a guy who with full time ABs can be a top 25 outfielder with both power and some speed but as a bench guy he is fairly stuck in obscurity. The only light here is either a trade or a move for Ryan Braun to first base but with Eric Thames also in Milwaukee it is hard to see how Santana becomes anything more than an a 80 game player.

Finally let’s just take a look at Lewis Brinson who is projected to be a full time player in Miami. That is a bonus for anyone stashing him in dynasty in that he will be a full time guy but the move to Miami will likely suppress his power game somewhat. He will steal be a steals threat and he has the tools to be able to hit home runs in that park.

In the short term hopefully he can become a Yelich type where he cuts down on the strikeouts, puts the ball in play and becomes a decent average guy. Coming up in organizations where the parks favor power, Rangers and Brewers, is always tough for a young player but Brinson has the hitting tools to develop his eye and then hopefully can develop that 20 home run power even in that park over the next couple of years. If he can pair that with the speed he has shown in the minors then a 20-20 guy in the future is a real potential.

Initially this trade is both a loss and a gain for Brinson’s fantasy value. Yes its great he’s a full time guy but his game isn’t right for Miami as it stands and he could struggle even with full time at bats. In the long run though the extra playing time and the need to adapt his game could lead to him developing into a good all-around hitter, which would make him a player with real fantasy value.

This trade is a net positive for fantasy because Cain and Yelich gain heavily from the trade. If the Brewers can find a way to get Santana regular ABs or they move him in a trade then it could be an amazingly positive move. Santana owners will be annoyed but right now I prefer to see two guys I trust to draft in Cain and Yelich get the boost even if it means sacrificing some of the upside of guys like Santana and Brinson in the short term. Whatever happens for fantasy Milwaukee are going to be a fun team to watch next year!

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