Rumors are swirling.
“Jonathan Lucroy to where?”
“What team is interested in Ryan Braun?”
With the Milwaukee Brewers playing well above expectations thus far into the season, but staying firm on the course of rebuilding the team and organization, trade rumors are all over. As the trade deadline approaches and rumors continue to grow and persist, everyone likes to pretend they’re the general manager of the team. So here is my crack at it; my blueprint for the rebuild.
- What to do with Braun and Lucroy
Possibly the top two trade candidates in all of baseball this season, the two veterans and life-long Brewers have been nothing short of All-Stars this season. Both have 10 plus homers, 30 plus RBIs, 20 plus walks and are tied for the team lead with a .307 batting average. Of the two, Lucroy is the most tradeable and will haul a deeper return. Having a catcher who can also play first base or DH and is as good offensively and defensively as Lucroy (24 caught stealing on 36 attempts) is not something you come by everyday. Tie that into his team-friendly contract, and teams are chomping at the bit to get Lucroy.
Braun, on the other hand, comes with baggage. While he is having a huge resurgence after a couple down years post -PED scandal, there is still the fact he did take PEDs, his huge contract and the nagging thumb and back injuries that have flared up over and over again throughout his career.
Teams reportedly looking at Lucroy include the Mets, Rangers, Astros, Indians, and White Sox, among others. Braun is reportedly (and we speculate) being looked at by the Giants, Mets, Nationals, Red Sox, and Cubs, among others.
If I was the Brewers’ GM, I would only trade Lucroy, mainly for the larger haul and his desire to play for a “winning team”. Braun has expressed more desire to stay in Milwaukee and has the potential to play his entire career with the Brewers, not to mention his no-trade clause with the majority of the league’s teams. The Brewers will also have to pay a lot of Braun’s salary still if they trade him.
Overall, as GM David Stearns has repeatedly, anyone is truly available depending on the return.
- The surprise players
It is safe to say that nobody predicted shortstop Jonathan Villar or first baseman Chris Carter to be as good as they have been over the course of the season thus far. Carter leads the team in home runs with 17 dingers while Villar leads all of baseball with 23 stolen bases. Both Carter and Villar were brought in as place holders while star prospect shortstop Orlando Arcia developed in the minors and the Brewers searched for a first baseman of the future.
But now, both have shown to be more than mere placeholders. So the Brewers can either trade them quick, using their production to get more in return, or keep them and hope the production continues and maybe even grows. Personally, I’m inclined to be cautious on the trading away players who have been as productive as Villar and Carter. Villar is showing he can be an all around talent and can play multiple infield positions. He is also 25 years of age. Carter, while 29 years old, has real potential to hit 40 home runs a year, especially playing in a ball park like Miller Park consistently. If you are just itching for a trade though, Carter would be the better guy to move as his power makes him easier to move and his age makes him more expendable.
- Pitching, pitching and more pitching
Any trades the Brewers make absolutely need to involve a mid to high-end pitching prospect. All of the best teams in baseball have one thing in common, dominant pitching. The New York Mets have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and the infamous Bartolo Colon. The Cubs have Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel and John Lackey. While most teams don’t have as dominant rotations, all of the contenders have solid and sound rotations that get the job done without needing much change throughout the year.
When the Brewers were playoff contenders, it was always the pitching that ended up being their downfall. In 2008, the Brewers had CC Sabathia, who was dominant, but then had little else to help combat a dominant Phillies lineup led by Ryan Howard. In 2011, the Brewers had a solid Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo, but the rotation faltered against the star-studded St. Louis Cardinals lineup.
Consistent pitching is something the Brewers have rarely had, but it is something they need if they wish for the rebuild to be successful over a long period of time. So while I think the trades should come few and far between, they should all involve pitching prospects.
*All stats from MLB.com
*Photo courtesy of Getty Images