The Brewers could very well have the same starting outfield that they did last year, with Ryan Braun in left, Keon Broxton in center, and Domingo Santana in right. However, the outfield could be more fluid than the infield. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Perez figure to get some time out there as the third and fourth outfielders.
The Brewers also have some young guns looking to break through. Michael Reed has seen some very limited action in the big leagues already, and Lewis Brinson could be ready to crack an Opening Day roster. Brett Phillips, the centerpiece in the Carlos Gomez trade in 2015, has been impressive, but will probably start the year in AAA Colorado Springs.
Braun will continue to be subject to trade rumors for as long as he is a Brewer, whether he gets traded this spring or retires as a Brewer. He had a great year last year, hitting .305 with 30 home runs. The key for Braun is to stay healthy, and the Brewers have limited him to 135-140 games in the last 3 seasons, which seems to be helping.
Braun is going into his 11th season with the Brewers and is the only player left from the 2011 NL Central champion team. The Brewers are counting on his veteran presence to help the young team as they start to turn the corner from rebuilding team to playoff contender.
Braun is coming up on a milestone: He is 15 home runs from becoming the first Brewer to hit 300 in his career as a Brewer. He should get to that mark by the end of June or beginning of July. As long as he stays healthy and in a Brewer uniform, the Brewers should be able to celebrate their first 300 home run hitter.
Broxton got off to a horrible start last season, going hitless in his stint in the big leagues. He was sent down to AAA, but was back up in May. He did not get his first hit until his 23rd at bat of the season. It was a bunt single in the top of the 13th inning that helped set up the winning run.
Broxton ended up with four stints in Milwaukee. He looked lost at the plate in his first three chances, but he looked like a totally different player in the fourth and final trip. He hit .294 with 16 stolen bases in his last 46 games. If he continues with those results in 2017, the Brewers could have an exciting top of the lineup with Broxton and Jonathan Villar getting on and wreaking havoc on the basepaths.
Santana had a rough first half before being sidelined for two months with an elbow injury. He hit .280 with 7 home runs in the last 37 games last season. The Brewers are hoping that a full season of Santana will help absorb the loss of power after letting Chris Carter go.
Santana was one of the pieces that the Brewers got by trading Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston. He has a strong arm and deceptive speed, which sometimes makes it look like he isn’t hustling.
The Brewers have a lot of depth in the outfield this year. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is coming back and Hernan Perez will see some time in the outfield again this season. Scooter Gennett may even see some playing time in the outfield.
On top of that, the Brewers have some youngsters that are ready to make an appearance at the big league level. Michael Reed was a September call-up in each of the last two seasons. Look for Reed to compete for a bench spot on the Opening Day roster.
Lewis Brinson could also break camp with the Brewers. The Brewers acquired Brinson in the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers. Brinson had been at the AA level with the Ranger organization, and immediately got promoted to AAA when he came to the Brewer organization. He excelled, hitting .382 with 4 home runs and 4 stolen bases in just 23 games. Brinson has the speed and the arm to play in either center field or right field.
Brett Phillips, the centerpiece in the Carlos Gomez trade, will probably start the season in AAA, but he could come up later in the season. He hit a wall at AA, but he has the tools to break through it this year. He, too, has the speed and arm to play in either center or right.
The Brewers have a deep and talented outfield this year. Braun is the only one in the group that is over 30, and most of the Brewer outfielders are 25 or younger. It should be one of the strengths of the team as they look to improve over last year, as well as for years to come.