Contrary to popular belief, Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton is not out of minor league options, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Because Broxton spent fewer than 20 days in the minors in 2017, he did not burn his final option year, McCalvy reports (Twitter link).
This normally wouldn’t be a particularly newsworthy development, but it’s interesting in Broxton’s case because he has come up as a trade candidate this offseason. Thanks in part to the Brewers’ acquisitions of fellow outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich this week, an out-of-options Broxton very easily could have found himself in another organization by the start of the season. While that still might be the case, the Brewers do have the chance to keep the soon-to-be 28-year-old around as minor league depth. If he remains a Brewer, earning a big league role at the outset of the season could be difficult with Cain, Yelich, Domingo Santana, Ryan Braun and Brett Phillips also in the fold (though Santana’s popular in the rumor mill, too).
Broxton emerged on the big league scene in 2016, overcoming a 36.1 percent strikeout rate to slash .242/.354/.430 with nine home runs and 23 stolen bases over 244 plate appearances. He also graded well in the grass, with nine Defensive Runs Saved and a 5.4 Ultimate Zone Rating. All said, Broxton was worth 2.1 fWAR that year, which was a boon to a Milwaukee club that essentially stole him from the division-rival Pirates in a December 2015 trade.
Unfortunately for Broxton and the Brewers, he went backward in 2017. While Broxton was a 20-20 player, finishing with exactly that many HRs and 21 stolen bases, he increased his already high K rate to 37.8 percent and hit a meager .220/.299/.420 across 463 PAs. Additionally, Broxton drew poor defensive marks according to DRS (minus-7) and UZR (minus-2.1), though Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric ranked him among the game’s best outfielders.
In the midst of his struggles last year, the Brewers sent Broxton to the minors in July. Because it was such a short-lived demotion, he could head back to Triple-A Colorado Springs this year if the Brewers don’t trade him. Broxton would likely have value in a deal, though, considering his upside and team control. He’s under wraps through the 2022 campaign and won’t be eligible for arbitration until at least next offseason.