Good morning, and happy July, Brewer Nation!
It is officially trade season in Major League Baseball as the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros were all involved in moves over the past couple of days. Trade winds are beginning to pick up speed all around the league, and as has been documented numerous times by a multitude of baseball scribes, the Milwaukee Brewers could be at the center of a lot of activity. Whether that happens is truly up to some decisions by Doug Melvin (likely with Mark Attanasio’s input) about the short-term goals of the team.
Scouts have begun showing up in earnest at Brewers games, many centering around the starts of Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse. Some of that is due diligence and “normal coverage” but some of it isn’t.
I was made aware of some specific interest in a pair of Brewers players late on Tuesday night which I’m passing along now, but not before the sadly necessary caveat that:
- I’M NOT REPORTING IMMINENT TRADES!
- I’M ALSO NOT SAYING THAT THERE HAVE EVEN BEEN WORTHWHILE DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE TEAMS ABOUT THE PLAYERS YET.
All I’m saying is that these teams are known to have shown interest in the players to which I’m about to connect them.
This first one is easily guessable based on the need of the team and has been discussed by myself and others on Twitter already.
The Detroit Tigers have shown interest in Francisco Rodriguez.
The Tigers’ bullpen is perilously thin at the back end, what with their desperate attempt to get something out of Jose Valverde this season after initially choosing not to bring him back following his late 2012 implosions. K-Rod has pitched very well for Milwaukee, and he’s on a cheap deal for the rest of 2013. The Brewers should be extra motivated to move Rodriguez to the right bidder given that he’s only on a one-year deal and will likely command a much higher price tag in free agency after the season.
Two teams are tied to the next player I’m discussing tonight.
Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics have shown interest in Norichika Aoki.
Given that Aoki is controllable at an inexpensive rate in 2014, any team acquiring the former multi-time Japanese batting champion will be getting a year and a half of service out of him at the minimum.
In Oakland’s case, they don’t have an immediate need in their outfield but Aoki has proven to be a good hitter that would absolutely be useful for them. It could be a move with an eye on 2014 as well, however, as Coco Crisp is a free agent following this season.
For Tampa, they entered Tuesday just 2.0 games behind in their division and are barely getting any offensive production out of Matt Joyce at this point. Aoki would immediately upgrade their offense out of that lineup spot. Aoki has shown the ability to hit either first or second in a lineup, and both of those spots are currently filled normally by under-performing hitters.
So there you have it. Two ideas to wrap your minds around and see what you think about them. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know that actual discussions have taken place between these teams and Milwaukee, so I don’t know what (if any) possible return the Brewers could expect from these possible trade partners.
ESPN.com’s senior baseball writer Jayson Stark posted a column today about the trade market and all things pertaining to it.
He mentions the Brewers on the separate occasions. Here are those mentions and my thoughts about them.
On Aramis Ramirez, other hitters:
“The Brewers haven’t quite packed it in yet, but an official of one club that spoke with them reports that if they do sell, they’d gladly listen on their third baseman — and, for that matter, on any position player except Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun. The good news: Ramirez has a reputation as a second-half producer (.295/.351/.531 lifetime after the All-Star break). The bad news: He’s guaranteed $16 million next season, with a mutual option worth $14 million for 2015, with a $4 million buyout.”
It’s no surprise to read that the Brewers would listen on almost any hitter. There are veterans in this group that made a couple of playoff runs as a nucleus but are getting older and expensive together. There are complementary pieces that have performed well in Milwaukee but would be in decline (if they aren’t already) or off contract before Milwaukee’s next playoff push if they choose to adhere to Melvin’s stated directive.
One of the most valuable pieces among them, when healthy, is Ramirez. He could bring a handsome return from the right caller plus the Brewers would love to get out from underneath the rest of that contract.
I agree with the “untouchables” list offered above as well, realizing that the time to reload is now while we, as fans, look toward legitimate contention in the near future.
On Yovani Gallardo:
“The blueprint got all smushed up in Milwaukee this season. But that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be plenty to market if the Brewers sell. Atop the list of their most-coveted pieces, you’d find their ace, Yovani Gallardo. But teams that have checked in say the Brewers haven’t made it clear whether Gallardo is going to be out there or not. One NL exec said his impression was that Gallardo is the one pitcher on this staff who won’t be available. But another said: “To be honest, I think they would love to move him. Remember those fastballs that used to be 94-95-ish? Now they’re 89-90-ish.” Nevertheless, a 27-year-old starter with a track record and up to two seasons of control (counting his 2015 option) always makes for a viable trade chip.”
I don’t know that Melvin would “love” to move Gallardo as the executive who spoke to Stark suggested, but after Melvin’s comments mentioning Yo at all I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize that they’re willing to.
Melvin stated that a trade offer would have to “wow” him in order to move the Brewers’ long-time number one, but just that Melvin was willing to discuss Gallardo with the media speaks volumes.
Working in Melvin’s favor again is that he has some leverage with Gallardo much like he does with Ramirez. Gallardo is under contract for 2014 and has an affordable team option for ’15 that won’t be voidable after all. (The option could have been voided by Gallardo if he had multiple top finishes in the Cy Young Award balloting during the extension.)
Whether they should move Gallardo becomes the question now. Assuming a decent return is offered, are you reloading for a run at the division in 2016? Or do you want to take one more shot with this offense in ’14? The decision will be made soon and it directly affects Gallardo’s availability on the market.
Stark then lists his “Five more arms to keep an eye on:” at the end of the column, a list which includes Francisco Rodriguez.
This is the most obvious choice for a player that the Brewers would love to move. After getting somewhat screwed when Rodriguez accepted arbitration following the 2011 season, the Brewers got no compensation at all for what appeared to be the imminent departure of K-Rod from Cream City.
After receiving some offers to begin 2013, Rodriguez waited and eventually got a deal he was comfortable accepting from Doug Melvin. For everything that he wasn’t in 2012, Rodriguez has been excellent so far this season for Ron Roenicke. He would certainly bring back a worthwhile piece for a team in need of a proven (yes, I said it) late-inning option.
I don’t know, nor will I come close knowing, all the teams that will inquire about players currently on the Brewers roster.
I will follow along the rumors on the internet as best I can from the people that make money to spend time chasing down leads. I will relay that information to you as quickly as I can.
But from time to time I’ll also hear stuff on my own. I’m here right now to offer some of that.
For example, the Angels have called on Greinke, but they also have talked to Milwaukee about Corey Hart and George Kottaras.
Speaking of the Greek column, Kottaras has also had interest shown in him by the Mets and Indians. Probably others have inquired that I don’t know about, but I do know about them.
Furthermore, the Orioles, Tigers, and Giants have all picked up the phone to check on the availability Hart.
As for the Giants, it was reported that they asked about Francisco Rodriguez but I have a hard time imagining they’re still interested after the Phillies series.
There were rumors that the Yankees might inquire about Aramis Ramirez but as far as as I could find out, that conversation hasn’t taken place. At least not yet.
Zack Greinke, of course, is the hottest chip on the market for Milwaukee right now. He’s been linked to numerous suitors including one who kept Doug Melvin on the phone for “over an hour” trying to come up with creative offers. Nothing pending, at least as of a couple of hours ago, with them though.
What’s that? You want to know who bent the Brewers’ ear that long? Okay fine. It was the White Sox.
Many people don’t feel that they have enough of a system to get a deal done straight up with Milwaukee but they are said to covet Greinke badly. And if there’s one thing Kenny Williams is, it’s creative.