We’re getting close. We’re almost at the trade deadline, and as you might already know, the Brewers should be major players in this year’s market.
R.J. Anderson actually called the team, last week, the most interesting team in baseball, for the way they could impact the deadline. That’s because the Brewers could go in a number of different and fascinating directions.
Mainly, the Brewers hold a number of interesting assets, beyond the obvious ones, and could take advantage of the market in a couple of ways.
Trading the Pitchers:
Dave Cameron on FanGraphs predicted that Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress, and Will Smith will be traded this deadline. These are reasonable possibilities, but the Brewers could take it a step further. We all know that the market for starting pitchers is slim. More so than most deadlines, and as usual, a number of teams could benefit from a quality starting pitcher or two. I outlined this in my last piece at BP Milwaukee.
While there haven’t been many rumors surrounding Junior Guerra, Jimmy Nelson, and Zach Davies, the Brewers could attempt to take advantage of the market and trade all of these pitchers. Nelson probably wouldn’t get a huge return, but he could be a secondary piece in a larger deal such as Mike Fiers. Guerra and Davies, on the other hand, could be the centerpiece of any trade.
Guerra has had a phenomenal season thus far, and while he’s a risky pitcher to gamble on, so are Rich Hill, Andrew Cashner and Drew Pomeranz (who netted a quality return). Guerra hasn’t pitched to the level of Pomeranz and Hill this season, but he has been a top 30 pitcher. This is better than most pitchers currently on the market. He’s also under team control until 2022, unlike Hill who would only be a rental. Therefore, if teams think his performance is “real”, they could count on him pitching well for the next couple of years. If he falls apart after this season — a definite possibility — then Guerra is cheap enough that his contract won’t be an albatross, and teams could simply send him to the minors.
The White Sox are asking for a king’s ransom for Chris Sale, which is reasonable because he’s a top five pitcher in baseball and his contract is a bargain. Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, and Matt Moore have all been good pitchers in the past, definitely better than Guerra, but this year Guerra has been the better pitcher. It’s also unclear whether the Rays and the A’s would be willing to deal these pitchers considering they would be selling them at their lowest value. The Brewers could, therefore, take advantage of this by trying to trade Guerra. If a team is high enough on him, he just might be able to net a quality prospect or two in return.
Davies is probably the least likely to be traded, but if Stearns is feeling wild, he could try and get more prospects in return for the young right-hander. Davies would be one of the younger pitchers on the market, and would have a number of years of control. As mentioned before, the market for starting pitching is thin, and many of the pitchers available are also rentals. If a team wants a pitcher with control and is turned off by Guerra’s age, they could turn to Davies as he’s shown an ability to pitch quality innings at the big league level.
To be clear, I don’t think this will happen, but I don’t think the Brewers should be closed minded when it comes to Davies.
Jeffress and Smith, on the other hand, have been the product of many trade rumors, but these pitchers aren’t even the best relievers on the Brewers. That status goes to Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg actually has a better DRA than Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, and Wade Davis. The Cubs paid a hefty price for Chapman, and it has been reported that it would take a larger return to net Davis.
If teams feel that the prices on Davis and Andrew Miller is too expensive, Thornburg could present a cheaper option. For the Brewers, this could be a chance to get a quality prospect in return. Obviously, the Brewers will want good value in return, as Thornburg has been excellent but they don’t need to get the Chapman package for the trade to be worthwhile, they only need to get something similar.
When terms such as tanking or rebuilding get used, people usually associate it with trading major league ready talent. One of the reasons I think the Brewers are so interesting is that they could trade some of their prospects this deadline.
I don’t mean that this team will suddenly be a buyer, I don’t even mean that this team will trade prospects for major league ready talent, although they certainly could. What I mean is that the Brewers could use the depth in their farm system to net more talented prospects. When thinking about trades involving prospects, we usually associate it with a one-way street. Selling team trades big league asset, buying team trades prospects. This is generally the trend, but every now and then a team will include a prospect with the major league talent to net a better prospect return. For example, the Brewers could include prospects when trading Lucroy or another major league player in order to get better and more advanced prospects in return.
The reason the Brewers are such an interesting team is because they have the depth in their farm system to make these type of moves. As a number of people have noted, the Brewers farm system is much improved and has a lot of depth. A number of Brewers prospects are also far away from the majors. The Brewers could, therefore, use those resources in order to trade for a better prospect who’s perhaps closer to the majors. The Brewers could part with a prospect such as Demi Orimoloye, who’s been highly touted but at the same time is years away from the big leagues and has a lot of risk.
This could be a way for the Brewers to speed up their rebuild.
This wouldn’t simply benefit the Brewers. When teams trade for major league talent, they will sometimes sacrifice a lot of their depth in the minors. This could be a way for a team to acquire a major league asset, while at the same time gaining riskier assets in the minors. This would obviously mean that that team, would have to give up a better prospect, but if a team is high enough on a player such as Orimoloye, including him in the deal may make the trade work.
If anything, Stearns has shown a savvy ability to acquiring talent. I don’t anticipate that savviness to suddenly go away this deadline. We could, therefore, see Stearns make a number of shrewd moves in the next couple of days as the market seems to be ripe for the taking.