The seal has been broken, the Los Angeles Dodgers made the first move. Expect the rest of the MLB to follow suit and the first in line will be the Milwaukee Brewers.
With shortstop and perennial All-Star Manny Machado on his way to Miller Park, to play for the opposing team, the Brewers fell just a tad short.
It had been reported the Brewers had the second best offer for the soon to be a free agent. If there is any takeaway for Brewers fans it is that the team and general manager David Stearns are ready and willing to deal.
With the Dodgers now the odds-on favorite to get to the World Series on the National League side, the Brewers are going to have to counter, and the Neil Walkers of the world are not going to cut it.
If the organization is as excited about this season as the Machado rumors would indicate, they will have to go above and beyond the Dodgers.
Enter the New York Mets.
The Mets entered the season as a dark horse playoff team and came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Then the cylinders misfired and the team has tumbled well out of playoff contention.
With that, their top players have entered trade rumors and the crown jewel is starting pitcher Jacob deGrom.
The 30-year-old is having his best season to date. A 1.68 ERA (which leads the NL for starters) has covered 123.1 innings. He is also averaging career bests in K/9 with 10.87, BB/9 with 2.19 and has already matched his previous season’s WAR of 4.4.
He has also reversed a trend he had been going down of giving up more home runs. Since 2014, his home run to flyball ratio had been climbing. This year deGrom has halved his 2017 HR/FB ratio, is drawing softer contact on batted balls and is consistently inducing ground balls.
The best part, he has two more seasons after 2018 of team control. A two and a half year rental sure sounds a lot better than a half year rental.
Now we get to what the Mets would want in return. Earlier in the season, it seemed like it would take a lot to get the deal done; a couple top four prospects from the Brewers system and then more. But leverage may be swinging in the Brewers favor.
Last week deGrom’s agent took to the radio waves to indicate deGrom was unhappy with the Met’s indecision, refusal to get him a long-term contract extension and that the next move may be to demand a trade.
That would push leverage to the buyers, but it would still take a lot as there could be many suitors for the ace pitcher.
Just as they were positioned well for Machado though, the Brewers would be positioned well for deGrom.
It would probably take at least one of 2B Keston Hirua or RHP Corbin Burnes, the top hitting and pitching prospects for the Brewers. Hirua is crushing the ball at the Double-A level and on the season has hit for a .307/.370/.499 line in the minors. He’s also added 10 home runs, 30 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and 28 doubles.
Burnes has made his way to the Brewers bullpen at the major league level and has managed a small sample size of four innings giving up zero runs and one hit.
This is going to sound like selling the farm but package three of those prospects (led by either Hirua or Burnes) and add one or two more prospects who are way down the rankings and the Brewers land a controllable ace pitcher.
Also, there is always risk involved in prospects. Some will break through to everyday roles, a few may become busts and even fewer will become All-Stars.
The Dodgers grabbed the best bat on the market, it’s time for the Brewers to go grab the best arm on the market.