As the two teams have been frequent trade partners, could the KC Royals find any of Milwaukee’s free agents worth reeling in?
Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing the major league free agent market and projecting who might, or might not, fit the KC Royals’ needs. Today we look at the Brewers’ free agents.
Leading the charge in his sixth season as skipper, it was the first time since 2016 Craig Counsell had a losing record for the Brewers. Nonetheless, the 29-31 mark—just three games better than the KC Royals—was good enough to qualify for the expanded postseason this past summer.
Milwaukee would go on to lose its Wild Card series to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers two games to none. The Brewers have already made a couple of big decisions by declining their option on long time franchise star Ryan Braun and resigning Brett Anderson to a one-year contract.
Many corner infielders to choose from
While the middle infield of the KC Royals seems set for years to come, the first and third base positions are still in flux. Maikel Franco only has one more year before free agency and Hunter Dozier is in his third position in three years at first base.
Although he’s an aging superstar, the big name on the market from the Brewers is Braun. He has spent the first 14 years of his career with the franchise. His batting average and ability to get on base plunged drastically from his career numbers in 2020.
While primarily an outfielder during his major league tenure, Braun has a handful of games at first base under his belt. If the Royals were to pursue him, that is where he would be the best fit. His range and fielding percentage are no longer useful past the infield, especially in spacious Kauffman Stadium.
The only way I make a play for him, however, is if the Royals make the deal for Kris Bryant freeing up third base for Dozier to return to, with Bryant holding down right or left field. Then, under a two-year contract, we can see what Braun has left at first base while we wait for Nick Pratto or another prospect to take over the reins at that position.
Braun has expressed an interest to keep playing and although he will be 38 next year, he still hits at an OPS+ of over 100. He could buy the Royals time to develop the next true first baseman and provide veteran leadership.