Tag: David Stearns

A Fork In The Road: Should the Milwaukee Brewers Buy at the Trade Deadline?

Is the brewers rebuild coming to an end? or should david stearns stay the course?

The Milwaukee Brewers trade deadline activity might be heating up, especially after they have defied the odds all season and have a 5.5 game lead in the division. Even the most optimistic fans did not see the division as winnable after expectations were low to start the season. Many others, myself included, figured there were too many unknowns with this club for it to come together this early. Yet here we are at the All-Star break and the Brewers are 50-41 and leading a surprisingly mediocre NL Central.

Many fans are thinking playoffs and are right to think so. The Brewers offense has shown an incredible amount of power despite Ryan Braun appearing in less than half of the 91 games played. Pitching has held up thanks to big first half performances by Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, and Corey Knebel.

The trade deadline is merely weeks away and some big names are available. Both the Oakland A’s Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox Jose Quintana had been named as potential targets of the Brewers. Quintana is now off the board after the Chicago Cubs traded their top two prospects plus others for his services. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is also rumored to be on the trade block. The Brewers may be tempted to make a splash with a rare opportunity to make the playoffs looming. Should they though? We’ll take a look at the arguments for and against buying at the deadline.

Milwaukee Brewers trade deadline and buying in

The Brewers have a 5.5 game lead in the division with 71 games to play. If they hold a similar lead by the end of July, the division will be theirs for the taking. One big reason to buy at the deadline is that playoff appearances are unfortunately rare in Milwaukee. Aside from 2008 and 2011, one must go back to the 1982 squad to find a playoff team. The Brewers have one of the highest rated farms in baseball, but there is no guarantee that the prospects will pan out as expected. Why wait around for something that may not happen?

General Manger David Stearns does not care about history though, his focus is on the future. Sonny Gray could be a smart pickup as he is under 30 and has two seasons of affordable team control remaining. This would not be a half season rental like C.C. Sabathia back in 2008. Gray would immediately be, at worst, the number 2 starter in the rotation.

The Brewers farm system is loaded with talent with a surplus in the outfield. Stearns could flip a couple prospects and not damage the overall health of the franchise. While they would still be underdogs in the NLDS, a playoff rotation of Gray, Nelson, and Anderson could at least keep the Crew competitive. If Stearns feels like the roster is built to compete within the next several seasons then adding a starting pitcher could be the final piece needed.

The Case For Standing Pat

David Stearns has repeatedly said that his goal is to build a long term winner in Milwaukee. Selling off prospects for a pitcher now could help this year, but could also hurt the Brewers down the road. The Brewers have done a remarkable job over the last two years flipping veterans for prospects. The team could very well sell off some prospects, getting burned in the process when a player they acquire does not live up to expectations.

In fact the Brewers are already benefiting from the trades they’ve made as Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Corey Knebel are big contributors now. The sheer amount of talent in the Brewers farm could have them set up to be a playoff caliber squad for a decade. Given Milwaukee’s rather non-competitive history I think most fans would welcome a sustained period of success.

In the end it’s about trying to bring a championship to Milwaukee and two seasons of Gray is unlikely to push the Brewers over the likes of the Dodgers, Astros, or Nationals. The Brewers have shown that they will go all in to acquire a front line starter; Sabathia in 2008 and Zack Greinke in 2011. Stearns may not feel that 2017 is the time for the big push, especially if either the Cubs or Cardinals close the divisional gap by the deadline.

My Opinion

The idea of acquiring Gray is tantalizing for sure. Winning the division title over the heavily favored Cubs would be sweet considering the meager expectations heading into the season. However I would not expect the Brewers to pull the trigger on a large scale deal this season. They might make another low risk trade similar to the one made for reliever Tyler Webb, but not much else.

The reality is that the Cubs gave up two of their top prospects to get Quintana. The A’s will want a similar deal for Gray which might require the Brewers to trade two of Lewis Brinson, Josh Hader, or Isan Diaz. Given the potential of those players I expect Stearns will pull out of any trade talks. There will come a time when the Brewers add a top line starter for a World Series push but it is unlikely to be this season.

 

Brewers Jeremy Jeffress Trade Should Net Big Haul

By: Mark Prott

Recent Aroldis Chapman trade to Cubs should be model for asking price

Amid all the speculation, rumors and trade ideas surrounding Milwaukee Brewers Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, it has been a bit surprising to not see more trade talk surrounding the Brewers other big fish in the pond on the trade market, relief pitcher and suddenly dominant closer Jeremy Jeffress. Of course, with the trade deadline less than a week away and the recent New York Yankees trade of closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, talk surrounding the Brewers hurler seems to be ramping up. MLB Network’s Jim Duquette says that Brewers General Manager David Stearns has a high asking price on a return for a Jeffress deal.

So in other words, the Brewers are asking for the same type of deal the Yankees received after they landed # 1 Cubs prospect shortstop Gleyber Torres in the Chapman deal. On the surface, one might think no way is Jeffress going to have the same value as Chapman. But when we dig a little deeper it couldn’t be more true that Jeffress should be worth at least the same type of top prospect on the level of Torres, rated by Baseball America as the #27th overall prospect in Major League Baseball.

Sure Aroldis Chapman comes with more flash and pizzazz, sporting his 105 mph fastballs and cranking out eye popping strikeout rates. But bottom line is the closer’s job is to get 3 outs in the 9th while protecting your team’s lead. No matter how you get the outs or how hard you throw, saves all count the same. And in that regard Jeremy Jeffress has been every bit as good as Aroldis Chapman this year. Compare the numbers so far, Jeffress is 25 out of 26 converting saves with a 2.11 ERA, while Chapman is 21 out of 22 with 1.87 ERA entering play Saturday. Both players also happen to be 28 years old.

If you still are not convinced Jeffress should command a similar return to Chapman, it is also important to take into account free agency status and team control. While we know the Cubs possess the resources to lock him up long term if they want, as of right now Chapman is simply a rental player. On the other hand, Jeffress does not become a free agent until the 2020 season. Then there’s the off field issues that need to be addressed in trade value. Jeremy Jeffress had a well publicized problem with marijuana, causing early career suspensions, but all indications are that problem is well in Jeffress’ past. Chapman on the other hand has a much more recent and alarming off field issue having been involved in an alleged domestic violence incident last October, which caused him to be suspended 30 games to start the 2016 season.

I’ll admit if it comes down to one game and I get to pick, I would choose Chapman over Jeffress. But there’s more factors involved than sheer talent when it comes to teams trading away building blocks of their future. Bottom line is the Brewers have a very valuable piece in Jeremy Jeffress. He’s one of the top closers in the game. And it also does not hurt that he’s been pitching great, when no doubt many scouts and executives’ eyes are on him, watching every pitch.

 

 

Brewers and Indians Trade Makes Sense

By: Mark Prott

Let the madness of the August 1st trade deadline begin! No doubt Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Davis Stearns will be fielding a lot of calls from now until the deadline but sounds like things could be heating up sooner rather than later. ESPN’s Buster Olney already reporting that the Indians and Brewers have begun discussing a possible trade that would send the All-Star Catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Cleveland Indians likely for multiple prospects.

The Brewers are known to have discussed Lucroy with the Texas Rangers and most likely multiple other teams have kicked the tires as well but to me, Cleveland seems to be the perfect match. Let’s first take a look at a possible deal from Cleveland’s side. Sitting in first place in the AL Central, things are looking up for the Indians right now but then again, it’s still only July with a lot of baseball to be played. Former Brewers prospect and current Indians outfielder Michael Brantley suffered another setback to his shoulder, so it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll come back or if this will linger all year. Which leads me to believe the Indians decision makers want to strengthen other areas of the team for their upcoming pennant race. And the one position that stands out like a sore thumb on that team is catcher. Steve Adams of mlbtraderumors.com notes that Cleveland has by far the worst production in all of baseball from their catchers, hitting well under .200 for the year.

Jonathan Lucroy on the other hand has been a hitting machine, ranking third among all catchers in baseball with a .305 batting average and second in OPS at .854 entering play Thursday. Don’t forget his defense, ability to throw runners out (currently leads MLB with 28), and his ability to pitch frame. He’s also a leader in the clubhouse.  Hurts to say being a Brewers fan but Lucroy would look darn good in the middle of the Indians lineup and I know the city of Cleveland would love him just like the fans do here in Milwaukee.

Add in the Cleveland Indians desire to add back end relief help and I feel a blockbuster deal could be on its way. The Brewers happen to have two of the most coveted relievers on the market in lefty Will Smith and right hander Jeremy Jeffress, who is 23 out of 24 in save opportunities. Not only are both having great seasons, but they also won’t become free agents until 2020.

Now on to the Brewers side of things. GM David Stearns has made it clear he wants top value for Lucroy as well as his coveted relief pitchers and he will walk if he doesn’t get that in a deal. Lucroy has 1.5 years of control so Stearns knows the offseason is another possibility to deal Lucroy but with his value probably at an all time high, it would be great if the Brewers could find a taker right now to advance the rebuild. The Cleveland Indians possess the ammunition in their farm system to get this deal done now. Coming into 2016, they were ranked the #16 best farm system by Baseball America. But with many of their top prospects having excellent seasons, unlike the case with the Brewers prospects, their ranking is likely on the rise.

The Indians have a nice balance of 6 pitchers and 4 hitters among their top 10 prospects ranking on mlb.com. Even if the Indians hold onto their top 3 prospects in outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, and pitcher Brady Aiken, a deal can still get done in my opinion. Among those 4 hitters is Bobby Bradley, a power hitting first baseman and catcher Francisco Mejia, who is having a huge season. Both spots are weak in the Brewers farm system and no doubt would be intriguing to Stearns and company. 3 high upside but young arms in lefties Justus Sheffield, Juan Hillman, and righty Triston Mckenzie also look like possible targets that would appeal to the Brewers brass.

Adding a Will Smith to a Lucroy deal would certainly drive the asking price up in a deal, enough so that Brewers could legitimately ask for 4-5 of the top 10 prospects on a team like the Indians. With just about every contending team wanting relief help, the Brewers could very well trade a Jeffress or a Smith on their own for a good return, but the thought here is the Indians would be wise to kill 2 birds with 1 stone in a blockbuster deal with the Brewers.