After a disappointing second half and missing out on the playoffs, it is going to be an interesting offseason in Milwaukee. One area I am intrigued to see moving forward is how the crowded outfield shakes out.
The Milwaukee Brewers have an abundance of outfield options right now. The current outfielders on the roster are: Christian Yelich, Hunter Renfroe, Tyrone Taylor and Garrett Mitchell. Esteury Ruiz had a cup of water in Milwaukee, coming over in the Josh Hader trade.
Waiting in the wings in AAA are two top-4 Brewers and MLB to- 100 prospects Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer. Jackson Chourio one of the top prospects in all of baseball reached AA and it’s not out of the realm of possibility he could be nearing a call next September.
For now, let’s keep Chourio out of things and focus strictly on next year.
Brewers have OF options aplenty
Even without Chourio we have seven options without considering free agent options.
It’s fascinating to see what direction Milwaukee decides to go with their outfield. There will be some combos of OFs that just won’t happen, For instance the Brewers won’t go with a Ruiz, Frelick, Mitchell outfield as you need some pop. So what direction are the Brewers likely to go? Well, I can’t be sure, I am going to take a swing at my thoughts who will constitute the Brewers’ outfield. Will the current outfielders be part of the Brewers future?
Brewers veteran outfielders
Christian Yelich: With Yelich’s contract he isn’t going anywhere. You can have four starters now as outfielders with the DH. Yelich isn’t the middle of the order threat you want from a DH with just 14 homers and a .738 OPS this year. Yelich is now a strong leadoff hitter, which compared to where things were headed, a step-up. As a $27 million man and being just 30 years old likely isn’t going to be an everyday DH. Yelich is still going to be the team’s left fielder most nights and be sticking around with his contract. Yelich is a certainty in the team’s future OF plans. Future in Milwaukee: Well beyond 2023.
Hunter Renfroe: I recently did a piece on what the 2023 roster might look like. If prospects Brice Turang and Garrett Mitchell receive regular playing time, Yelich and catcher makes four spots with below MLB-average pop. You almost need the rest of the spots to have power and boy, does Renfroe offer that. He has 29 homers with two stints on the IL. I expect him to be on the roster next year, however, after that it gets cloudy. Future in Milwaukee: 2023.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 25, 2022
Young outfielders on the roster
Tyrone Taylor: Being pre-arbitration, Taylor seems like a perfect fourth outfielder who can play center field and is very cheap, not even making $1 million. He has hit 17 home runs and is only 28 years old. Taylor has been thrust into more playing time this year. I don’t think Taylor is an everyday outfielder, but he is an ideal fourth OFer able to step in. Future in Milwaukee: Year-to-year.
Garrett Mitchell: I’m intrigued what happens with Mitchell as things progress. Mitchell has elite speed and is a good defensive center fielder. Can the Brewers pull out the power they see in him? It would help distinguish Mitchell, as the next outfielder I am going to touch on has very similar skillset but is projected for below average power. You’re not going to go with a starting lineup with Yelich, Mitchell and Frelick as that just isn’t enough power. If Mitchell can tap into that power potential to go with his speed he would likely be the future center fielder. As things stand the future likely comes down to Mitchell or Frelick and the other could be dangled to improve other areas of the roster.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) October 5, 2022
Top minor league OF prospects
Sal Frelick: Frelick is raking in AAA. He has racked up 22 multi-hit games in less than 50 games in AAA. Frelick has whizzed through the system and is performing in AAA. Frelick has a high hit tool and hit .331/.403/.483 slash line in the minors this year. The only issue is he doesn’t much power and doesn’t project to be a big power threat. That’s fine.
Sal Frelick extends his on-base streak to 37 games!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 21, 2022
However, it does create basically a choice for the Brewers future with little power options in the outfield. In centerfield it likely comes down to Frelick or Mitchell as they have very similar skillsets in speed/power. Frelick likely the higher average guy and both are solid defenders.
This is one of the more intriguing future choices for Brewers brass as in today’s game there isn’t a spot for Frelick/Mitchell/Yelich outfield as offensively there just isn’t enough power. Frelick is ready for a callup and is likely to be called up in 2023 after June 1 to save a service year. Future as Brewer: TBD but will be called up in 2023.
Joey Weimer & Esteury Ruiz
Joey Wiemer: The Brewers No. 4 prospect was the Minor League Player of the Year last year and has continued stellar play this year, despite less talk with the rise of Jackson Chourio. Wiemer has hit 21 homers and stolen 31 bases between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Nashville. Wiemer has power and a very good throwing arm in the outfield. He reminds me a bit of a faster Hunter Renfroe if he can match his power displayed in the minors. Wiemer is close to being ready for the bigs and with the rest of the outfield prospects waiting in the wings lacking power, Wiemer has a good chance to stick around and take over in right field in 2024.
Joey Wiemer flexes his power and his speed!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 12, 2022
Esteury Ruiz: One of the acquisitions in the Josh Hader trade, Ruiz is a speedy outfielder. Ruiz stole more than 80 bases in the minors this year. He has received some MLB experience in San Diego and a brief stint in Milwaukee. I am not sure where Ruiz fits or if he does in the future plans in Milwaukee. I could see him flipped for a position of need at a similar level such as a AAA 3B for instance or packaged in a trade. Future with Milwaukee: Year-to-year.
How will Brewers OF look 2023 & beyond
This is barring any free agent deals. As we have seen Stearns has had a propensity to load up in the outfield despite numbers. In 2023 I feel like it will be the same players to start in the outfield. 2023 OF: LF: Yelich; CF: Mitchell/Taylor platoon (to start); RF: Renfroe. After 2023: LF Yelich; CF: Frelick or Mitchell; RF: Wiemer.
Renfroe in right to have some power in the OF on a full-time basis makes sense. I think something could happen trade-wise in-season and Frelick will likely be summoned to the bigs in June or July for service time reasons. However, in 2024 I think Wiemer replaces Renfroe. I do think perhaps after this year there is a decision between Frelick and Mitchell and one could even be packaged with Burnes or Woodruff in a huge move. I am not sure what will be done with Ruiz or if he has the hit-tool to make it in the majors.
Either way it’s going to be a fun and interesting offseason for the Brewers and outfield might be the most intriguing aspect of next year’s roster along with whether Burnes or Woodruff are still in town or not.