The Brewers & Expectations For Summer Trades

Given the poor quality of the product on the field, it’s understandable that Brewers fans have begun to focus on the trade market and the prospects of earnestly rebuilding.

The general consensus seems to be that the Brewers should set this ship ablaze. They should send off all their trade chips for prospects, build up the farm system as much as possible, and engage in a long-term and holistic rebuilding process. In other words, the organization should copy the blueprint laid out by the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs over the past decade — embrace the temporary pain for the promise of a brighter, more sustainable future.

In a vacuum and on paper, such a plan makes sense. One must consider, though, the negative business consequences of a raze-and-rebuild plan and the fact that few teams are willing to part with quality prospects in this era of baseball. With those factors in mind, it becomes clear that such an overwhelming rebuilding process is not a simplistic decision, nor a process that can simply begin on command.

It hasn’t blown up into a torches-and-pitchforks situation to this point, but a growing number of Brewers fans are growing disillusioned with the team’s supposed plan this summer. Buster Olney recently indicated that the Brewers have shown no interest in meaningfully discussing their stars — players such as Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy. Furthermore, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt wrote a weekend piece that said the Brewers would have to receive the “right” (read: massive) offer to trade Gomez or Jean Segura, while Lucroy isn’t even on the table. In essence, these two articles suggest the Brewers are not actively seeking to move any of their trade chips that would conceivably bring back the best talent.

This article is not meant to be a pre-summer primer for the Brewers’ trade market; however, it is meant to address the space surrounding the Brewers’ trade plans. This article desires to complicate the rather simplistic raze-and-rebuild plan that’s being pushed by many fans this summer. In the end, it’s my hope that this article will nuance the discussion, set expectations for the trading season, and enable us to have a more useful dialogue on the topic.


The most frustrating piece of the trade-season hoopla is the angst generated from anonymous quotations or reports by “team executives” and other “front office members.” Quotations that are attributed to named front-office members should be included in this, too. Although baseball reporters from across the country bust their asses and mostly report factual conversations, the overwhelming tendency to accept these insider reports as truthful or non-manipulative is foolish.

Team sources leak information in an effort to manipulate the market in their favor. Player/agent sources do the same to benefit themselves. Team sources, when identified by name, engage in public-relations activities. National reporters fall prey to it, as do team-centric writers, but bloggers (for a lack of a better term) are becoming a larger avenue for these types of reports. Bloggers, as the traditional outsiders, get excited that they’re getting information from a “source” that they blindly report everything. I know that I’ve personally made numerous mistakes in this area. The source may provide a nugget or two of real substance, but the bloggers quickly become an avenue for manipulation or PR activities, a mouthpiece that organizations can use for their benefit.

In the end, what is the motivation for truthfulness in these hot-stove reports that have flooded the market over the past month? Doug Melvin gains absolutely nothing, and likely loses potential leverage, if he lays out his summer plan to the media. Team sources hurt themselves by being wholly transparent with baseball scribes.

Thus, when reading articles that quote Doug Melvin as saying the Brewers aren’t motivated to sell big pieces or that they still believe they can compete next season, take it with a gargantuan grain of salt. Do the same when reading articles that quote “anonymous sources” about a player’s trade value or about a team’s willingness to discuss a player or about a trade proposal that got rejected. Teams, players, agents, and scouts have many motivations to manipulate the market, utilizing the media as its mouthpiece.

To put it more succinctly, don’t fret about the recent articles that suggest the Brewers are not very willing to sell major pieces. Read between the lines. Ask yourself about the purpose of the quotation and who stands to benefit from it. Such skepticism will bring more peacefulness — or, if we’re being honest, boredom — to the upcoming hot-stove season.


Too much emphasis is being placed on the potential trades (or non-trades) made this summer. It’s being viewed as a pivotal moment in franchise history, where the organization can either signal a full commitment to the future or settle back into a half-hearted and flawed promise of imminent competitiveness. In other words, many fans are quickly slipping toward the attitude that the Brewers must sell Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, or Jonathan Lucroy this summer, if the organization wants to do this correctly.

This is the classic must-sell trap and is how the Tampa Bay Rays traded David Price to the Detroit Tigers and received an underwhelming package (to be kind) in return. The Price trade serves as a cautionary tale that a poor return on a star is far worse than holding onto a star. Even in the Brewers’ own history, the Carlos Lee trade is another example of this. The notion that “you’re better off getting something rather than nothing” is fundamentally flawed at its core.

To be fair, I do believe that most of the individuals who are slipping into the must-sell trap are not actually advocating a must-sell scenario. Instead, I believe these individuals are truthfully more concerned that Doug Melvin and the Brewers are open to fielding offers for players like Gomez, Segura, and Lucroy. What most die-hard fans desperately desire is some kind of confirmation that the organization knows its deep-seated defects and wants to do whatever is necessary to fix them.

However, it’s important to be realistic in these scenarios. While the Milwaukee Brewers may be interested in fielding offers for someone like Carlos Gomez, it doesn’t appear that any legitimate trading partner exists for the center fielder. The upcoming exercise will be limited in its scope, to be sure, but it should still prove instructive.

To me, it appears that eight teams have a need or an obvious spot for Gomez: Toronto, Seattle, Cleveland, Los Angeles (AL), Texas, New York (NL), Minnesota, and San Francisco. These teams have varying records and varying likelihoods of making the postseason, but of teams that could conceivably buy at the deadline, these are the eight that make the most sense for Gomez.

Of these eight teams, we should isolate those which have the necessary prospects to make a legitimate offer for Gomez. This eliminates the Angels, as their farm system is horrendous, as well as Seattle and San Francisco — the last two teams could make a deal work if they were willing to dip into a core piece at the major-league level, but that seems counterproductive for them. That leaves five teams with the necessary prospects available: Toronto, Cleveland, Texas, New York (NL), and Minnesota.

Not all of these teams, however, are likely to spend their prospects to acquire a center fielder. The Blue Jays desperately need help in their rotation and bullpen, and they’ll almost certainly dip into their minor-league coffers to address that need before pursuing Gomez. The Rangers are a similar story, as their rotation desperately needs an upgrade and Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto fit far better than Gomez at the deadline. One could make the same argument for the Twins. They still have Mike Pelfrey pitching every fifth day, their team DRA (Deserved Run Average) is fourth-worst in the American League, and they have Byron Buxton poised to take over center field once he returns from the disabled list.

This leaves two teams remaining, the Cleveland Indians and the New York Mets. The Indians could center a package around Bradley Zimmer, while the Mets have a few prospects who could headline a trade for Carlos Gomez, such as Steven Matz.

The problem, though, is that neither of these teams are likely candidates to buy big at the deadline. Cleveland is seven-games under .500 at the moment, and while they have a quality pitching staff and a hole in center field, it seems foolish for the team to trade away key pieces for their future in such a bad position. The only silver lining is that Gomez could still represent a significant upgrade for 2016, but in the end, the whole scenario is a stretch.

The Mets, on the other hand, are a tire-fire of an organization. They lack financial stability to take on new contracts and have historically been frugal with their prospects. Mets fans have pleaded for their organization to trade prospects for proven major-leaguers the past couple years; however, the team fails to do so every year. Banking on the Mets to be the team that makes the “right offer” on Gomez seems to be wishful thinking, at the very best.

Thus, we get to the end and it seems obvious why the trade market surrounding Carlos Gomez has been quiet, and why the organization continuously downplays any chance that Gomez might be moved this summer. The necessary market doesn’t appear to exist.


This is the crux of the situation, really. The Brewers do not have to sell anyone. They’re not in financial trouble like the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are trying to shed money in every direction. The Brewers appear poised to keep Carlos Gomez for the remainder of the season and then revisit the situation this winter, when more potential buyers become available. This article could have also broken down similar stories about Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy. Holding these players at the trade deadline is not necessarily a signal of obstinance from the organization; rather, it’s a reflection of the trade market at this time. The Milwaukee Brewers have premium pieces to sell — they’re just missing the other half of the puzzle, teams who are willing to part with prized prospects in order to buy them.

Those pining for a firesale this summer are almost certainly going to be disappointed. The Brewers might move Gerardo Parra and/or Adam Lind for an interesting piece; however, most of the trades will be unimportant. Neal Cotts won’t bring anything more than an A-ball player with high-bust potential or a Quad-A type of player. The same with Jonathan Broxton or Kyle Lohse. Teams are terrified of Francisco Rodriguez’s history of domestic abuse. In the end, it projects to be a summer trading season that brings dissatisfaction, rather than optimism.

My advice: Turn your attention to the upcoming offseason, rather than the summer trade deadline. The stars don’t appear to be on the verge of aligning this summer, which is what would need to happen for the Brewers to move their premium trade chips. This winter is far more likely to be the time when Milwaukee makes their franchise-defining moves. It will also be the time to finally become more concerned if the organization doesn’t begin to engage in the necessary rebuilding project.

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3 comments on “The Brewers & Expectations For Summer Trades”


Great post. I had the same feelings on Gomez and him likely being moved in winter.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts about the actual value of Segura. He has been a below average to bad hitter since June 2013. I’d say he is about average defensively and an above average baserunner, just casually glancing at his Fangraphs page. What sort of prospect package could the Brewers really expect from that? He’s still only 25, but he’s going on two years now of replacement-level production. I just don’t see any team willing to part with significant pieces to acquire him.

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