The San Diego Padres have been receiving a large number in inquiries on relief pitchers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit and the Brewers may well be one of the teams most interested in acquiring one of the two, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Heyman lists the Brewers with the Angels, Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles and Marlins as a team that is on the lookout for another back-of-the-pen option. While he does not say that the Brewers have had any actual talks with the Brewers, Heyman at least sees it as likely that the two would have a mutual interest.
After coming out of the gates strong, the Brewers' bullpen has cooled off in recent weeks. Over the past 30 days, Milwaukee relievers have a 4.04 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. Tyler Thornburg in particular has been a mess over that timeframe, with a 12.60 ERA and 5.69 FIP, albeit in just five innings. Wei-Chung Wang and Rob Wooten have also been dreadful.
The Brewers have gone to San Diego for relief pitching in the past. In 2007, Milwaukee attempted to bolster their bullpen by sending Joe Thatcher, Will Inman and Steve Garrison to the Padres for righty Scott Linebrink. Linebrink was not the most celebrated by Brewers fans, but managed a 3.55 ERA over 27 games in Milwaukee before bolting in free agency. The Brewers went into the All Star break 10 games above .500 that season, but a second-half slump saw them fall short of the playoffs.
At the time, that seemed like quite a bit to give up for half of a season from a reliever. The Brewers would be in a similar situation with Street or Benoit as the Padres would likely want some decent pieces to part with them.
Street is still just 30 years old and would still be owed around half of his $7 million due in 2014 if a team acquired him at the trade deadline. He also has a team option for another $7 million in 2015. He has been nothing short of spectacular in 2014, however, with a 0.96 ERA and 0.79 WHIP as the Padres' closer.
Benoit is signed through 2015 for another $12.5 million or so, including a $1.5 million buyout on a potential $8 million option for 2016. He has a 1.42 ERA this year over 31 games. He also has closing experience, however much that matters, after filling that role with the Tigers for much of 2013.
An interesting thing to think about if the Brewers are serious about acquiring another arm for the relief corps is the fate of Wei-Chung Wang if they were to trade for someone. The fortunate news is we're close to the point where the Brewers could place Wang on the DL for two months, then bring him back when rosters expand in September. That would allow the team to actually use all 25 roster spots on useful players. It's not the greatest thing for Wang's development, but then I don't think having him get hammered in his one appearance every two weeks is helping much, either.
There is still a long ways to go before the 2014 trade deadline on July 31. But with a 4.5 game lead in the NL Central, the Brewers may already be looking at how they can solidify their squad for a playoff run.
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