By now you've probably heard about yesterday's five-player trade that sent shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielder Fernando Martinez to the Athletics in exchange for first baseman Chris Carter and a pair of prospects. The more I think about it, though, the more both sides of this trade make me feel better about being a Brewers fan.
From the A's perspective:
Jed Lowrie is a soon-to-be 29-year-old with a career .250/.326/.417 batting line over five major league seasons, he's under team control for 2013 and 2014 and he can play shortstop. In short, he's exactly the kind of player we've been crying out for the Brewers to acquire each of the last two years.
However, this deal came at a significant cost for Oakland. John Sickels of Minor League Ball rated pitcher Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi (the two minor leaguers in the deal) as B- and C+ prospects for 2013, respectively. First baseman Chris Carter also has big-time power but contact issues in the majors.
To put this deal into context, the players the A's traded away have roughly the same value as Taylor Jungmann, Khris Davis and Mat Gamel. That's a pretty high price to pay for a shortstop that's never played 100 games in a major league season.
Fortunately, the Brewers are no longer in a position to need a player like Lowrie. Having Jean Segura (and to a lesser extend Alex Gonzalez) removes the question mark from that spot in the lineup for both the short and long-term futures, eliminating the need to mortgage the future to fill the spot in an "all-in" year.
From the Astros perspective:
A lot has been written about the Brewers' decision to pare down payroll this winter, but the Astros continue to strip their team down to a bare skeleton and sell off extra bones. Lowrie was projected to be the Astros third-highest paid player in 2013 with a salary of just $2.4 million. With him off the books, the Astros have just over $14.5 million committed to their 2013 roster. That's roughly the combined salary of Ryan Braun and John Axford.
Many Brewer fans will remember, of course, that Milwaukee was once in a similar position. But even a decade ago things weren't this bad: The 2004 Brewers spent $27.5 million on payroll, about twice what the Astros currently have committed.
I don't think it's a secret that I feel like the Brewers have left themselves with a very limited chance to win in 2013 after opting not to spend in free agency this winter. But at least they have a chance, and that's a lot more than you can say for the 2013 Astros. This team looks like a near-lock for their third consecutive 100-loss season.