Big thanks to Derek Jeter and the Marlins organization for their fire sale, because otherwise we wouldn’t have much of anything to talk about during this dreary offseason.

Thursday night, the Marlins traded prized outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers for three of Milwaukee’s top prospects, including Lewis Brinson.

Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins was reportedly “broken”, so the move wasn’t much of a shock. Especially since Miami parted ways with centerpieces Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals) and Dee Gordon (Mariners) already. They might have to hold open tryouts soon…

Meanwhile, the Brewers are becoming a team to take very seriously for 2018. Yelich, 26, has been as consistent as they come at the plate the last couple seasons. In 2017 he slashed .282/.369/.439 with 18 homers and 81 runs batted in. You have to believe those numbers will increase as the former Silver Slugger enters the prime of his career rejuvenated as a member of an organization that looks to be trending upward.

How exactly are the Brewers trending upward, you ask? Well for starters, Milwaukee surprisingly contended for the NL Central title for most of the 2017 season. They finished with an 86-76 record, which should be considered a success with their lack of preseason expectations. Still, there were a few pieces of the puzzle that needed to be figured out for them to make a postseason run. The first piece was Yelich, the second was another Thursday night acquisition that marked the biggest free agent signing up to this point in the offseason, Lorenzo Cain.

Milwaukee signed Cain to a five-year, $80 million deal to add to an already-stacked outfield. Much like Yelich, the longtime Royal serves as a catalyst in a lineup that already has plenty of pop with Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Eric Thames in the middle of the order. He is, however, entering his age 32 season which adds some obvious risk to the signing.

Regardless, the move shows the Brewers aren’t wasting any time to compete for a championship. As of today, here’s what their lineup shapes up to look like in 2018…

  1. Christian Yelich, RF
  2. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  3. Ryan Braun, LF
  4. Travis Shaw, 3B
  5. Domingo Santana, DH
  6. Eric Thames, 1B
  7. Stephen Vogt, C
  8. Orlando Arcia, SS
  9. Jonathan Villar, 2B

That’s pretty damn nice on paper, but is it enough?

If Milwaukee doesn’t do anything to improve its pitching staff, it probably isn’t.

Sure, the Brewers saw some impressive performances from guys like Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, but those aren’t guys a team can rely on to lead the way to a World Series. Plus, Jimmy Nelson will miss a good portion of the season due to injury. One more big splash needs to be made this offseason in the form of a proven ace.

Luckily, a surplus of outfielders makes such a move a whole lot easier to make. Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips have already been mentioned as possible trade chips in a deal for someone like Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi or Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. While those are solid options, the Brewers should just dish out the rest of their money to a free agent ace like Yu Darvish, who they’re already in talks with, or Jake Arrieta. Go big or go home.

If Milwaukee can put together that final piece of the puzzle, look out. If not, we could be looking at another season of “close, but no cigar” for the Brew Crew.

We’ll be discussing the Brewers and much more on the next episode of the Tater Talk podcast. Subscribe here.

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