Posted on July 22, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Throughout much of May and June, it appeared as if Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton was in the midst of a breakout season. But things have quickly turned in the other direction for the 27-year old. Broxton has fallen into such a deep slump that on Saturday the Brewers demoted him to triple-A. The move coincides with the Brewers activating Eric Sogard from the DL following an ankle injury.
During the month of July, Broxton is just 3 for 45 (.067). That’s a drastic drop off after he hit .289 with an OPS of .885 during the month of May and .241 with an OPS of .866 in June. On the season, Broxton’s average has dropped to .218, although his 14 home runs and 12 doubles have helped him maintain a modest OPS of .725.
Of course, extreme hot and cold streaks are nothing new to Broxton. He slumped for much of April before becoming a key part of Milwaukee’s success. That gave him some hope that he would be able to snap out of his current skid.
“It doesn’t rest easy on my mind at night, for sure,” Broxton said earlier this week before his demotion. “But the only thing you can do is keep the faith and keep figuring out ways to get better and to get back to where you were. You’ve just got to believe. This game is all about adjustments, so figure out the adjustments as quick as possible and just move on.”
The issue at hand is that Broxton going cold has coincided with a six-game losing streak for the Brewers. That losing streak has caused Milwaukee’s lead atop the NL Central shrink to just one game ahead of the Cubs. The Pirates and Cardinals are also within striking distance of the top spot in the NL Central. That losing streak has prompted the Brewers to demote the player who has started 79 of their 99 games in center field.
With Broxton back in triple-A, it opens the door for rookie Brett Phillips to play more regularly in center field. Phillips is 5 for 22 with two home runs and a double across three separate stints with the Brewers this season. He’s rarely played against lefties, but that could change if he’s no longer sharing time with Broxton. Utility man Hernan Perez is another option for Milwaukee in center field. But the Brewers may prefer to see if Phillips can take the job and run with it.
Broxton being optioned to the minors could also put the Brewers in the market for a center fielder before the trade deadline. Milwaukee may not want to give up prospects for a rental player. However, Oakland’s Rajai Davis and former Brewer Carlos Gomez, who’s currently with the Rangers, could fit Milwaukee’s needs and be available via trade.
If the Brewers want to go the trade route, they have less than 10 days to determine if they want to stick with Phillips or Broxton has a chance to return later in the season and be productive. It’s unlikely that that Brewers will trade for a center fielder. But with their recent losing streak and Broxton’s prolonged slump, the Brewers may be desperate enough to find a solution in center field that can keep their playoff hopes alive. If they don’t make a trade, they’ll have to hope that either Broxton can bounce back or Phillips can emerge as the answer in center field.