It has been over 24 hours since we first heard that the Brewers and Rangers are on the verge of a trade involving Yovani Gallardo.
The eight-year veteran has been with the Brewers his whole career and has made a name as a solid and consistent, though not spectacular, starting pitcher. He's had just one year with an ERA above 3.84 and has made at least 30 starts each of the last six seasons. Despite striking out fewer batters, he has learned to pitch to contact better to maintain his standing as a quality pitcher. He also has one year left at $13 million after the Brewers decided to exercise their team option.
However, 24 hours after learning about this trade the question remains: What exactly are the Brewers getting for Gallardo? So far, there has been no information on that front other than former top-prospect-in-baseball Jurickson Profar will not be involved (which, no duh). Right now, it seems the two sides are waiting on physicals before announcing anything.
The best assumption we could make is that the Brewers are particularly looking at relief help in this deal. Since fixing first base, that has been the team's primary concern, especially with both Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny gone and Francisco Rodriguez likely not signing with Milwaukee again.
Still, maybe there's a better way to figure out what the Brewers could be getting, at least in a rough sense. There have been two trades earlier this off-season for pitchers under control for just one year. Can we infer anything from either of those deals?
Tigers trade Rick Porcello to Red Sox for OF Yoenis Cespedes, P Alex Wilson and P Gabe Speier
Porcello, like Gallardo, had just one year left of team control and was set to make $12.5 million -- just $500,000 less than Gallardo. For most of their respective careers, Gallardo has been a better pitcher than Porcello. The former only had one year over a 4.00 ERA while the latter only posted a below-4.00 ERA for the first time in 2014.
However, Porcello (26) is younger than Gallardo (28) and has arguably more upside. His campaign with the Tigers last year was easily his best yet and made him a very attractive trade candidate. He also has better control than Gallardo, though he won't strike out as many. The Red Sox may also see Porcello as someone they can extend. Overall, I think the two players are equatable in trade value.
In return for Porcello, the Tigers primarily got outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is also only signed through 2015 and is coming off two mediocre years to follow up a very solid rookie campaign. His primary asset is his power (71 homers in three seasons), but he also plays strong defense. What he has not done well is get on base, though, which limits his offensive upside. The comparison to Khris Davis (offensively at least) that has been made fairly often seems fair.
Detroit also received two prospects in part because Porcello will be eligible for a qualifying offer while Cespedes will not. Alex Wilson had a tough time as a 26-year-old rookie in 2013, but had a much better go of things in 2014 in the majors, posting a 1.91 ERA in (sample-size alert!) 18 appearances. His minor league numbers won't blow anyone away, but he could find a place as a bullpen arm. Gabe Speier is 19 years old and only has 33 professional innings. His stats are great in those 33 innings, but it's too soon to tell on the 2013 17th-rounder. Has already had Tommy John surgery. Lottery ticket.
Red Trade Mat Latos to Marlins for P Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach
Mat Latos, over the past two years, has proven himself to be a better pitcher than Yovani Gallardo. Since joining the Reds prior to 2012, he has a 3.31 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, a 7.7 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. However, he has had some health issues with bone spurs and torn cartilage in his knee that caused him to make just 16 starts in 2014. He'll also likely be making significantly less than Gallardo in 2015. In Latos' third year of arbitration, MLBTradeRumors projects him to receive $8.4 million.
The main piece going from Miami to Cincinnati in the deal was the 24-year-old DeSclafani. He had reached the majors for the first time in 2014, but didn't perform great in 13 appearances (five starts). He gave up 23 runs in 33 innings but had a marvelous 33:5 K:BB ratio. Prior to 2014 he was ranked a B- prospect by John Sickels, the 6th best in the Marlins organization. His numbers weren't devastating in the minors, but he showed the ability to be an innings-eating guy. Almost exactly what the Brewers are looking at with Taylor Jungmann right now.
Chad Wallach is, like Speier, more of a lottery ticket. He was a 5th round pick in 2013 and only has two professional seasons, but hit .322/.431/.457 in 97 games last year between A and High-A ball. However, he's old for his level, having just turned 23. One of former All Star Tim Wallach's sons, Chad isn't likely to make any top prospect lists soon. But a catcher with potentially strong plate discipline is worth a flyer. Will need to advance quickly to up his standing as a prospect.
So what can we learn from these two trades?
The big takeaway, to me, is to not expect anything outstanding in return for Gallardo. It's not going to be the kind of deal to replenish the minor league system, or bring a young star to Milwaukee. There won't be a Jean Segura in this one, probably. Gallardo is well-liked by Brewers fans and is probably a top-3 pitcher all time for the team. He took over as the Brewers' all-time strikeout king in 2014, and is one of the longest tenured players on the squad.
However, we can't let Gallardo's value as a long-time Brewer influence what his actual value in a trade will be. The Brewers aren't getting a Joey Gallo or Alex Gonzalez, as great as that would be. I'm pretty sure the Brewers could offer to pay Gallardo's entire 2014 contract and still not be close to getting Gallo.
Breaking down the above deals, we see the Tigers got a solid starting outfielder for one year, a possible middle-of-the-road relief pitcher, and a young lottery ticket. The Reds got a solid starting pitcher who isn't expected to be anything special and a lottery ticket.
So,, from this, what I would think the Brewers will get is a nice bullpen piece and another lower minor leaguer who has looked good but is far from a sure thing. The only issue with this thinking is that the Doug Melvin has not typically been big on getting projectionable lower-minor leaguers. He did with Nick Delmonico when he traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles in 2013, but that's more of an exception.
That makes things a little tricky. Lot's of people on Twitter have been pointing to Luis Sardinas as a potential part of a deal, especially with him being stuck behind Elvis Andrus/Rougned Odor/Profar. That would give the Brewers a nice defensive-minded utility player for the next half-decade: He's been a top-100 prospect two years running, posting a career .336 OBP in the minors while showing strong base-stealing potential.
The 21-year-old didn't hit great in a brief major league trial last year, but should improve. There's no power there, but he is a switch-hitter (i.e. possible platoon partner with Scooter Gennett) and can play all over the infield. His potential is very high, but for now his ability to reach that is questionable.
The fact that there has been this long of a wait on the physicals makes me wonder if any questions about health exist on the players going back to Milwaukee. Gallardo has never had any real arm issues in his career, though pitchers are of course very volatile. If Sardinas is involved, it's worth noting he has had some shoulder issues.
However, there are some arms on the Rangers that could be involved and have had extensive injury histories. The most intriguing of these would be Neftali Feliz, once a former top starting pitcher prospect. He's proven himself to be a great reliever when healthy, but appeared in just 14 games from 2012-2013 due to Tommy John surgery. Two other issues exist here: He's a really good pitcher the Rangers probably wouldn't give up in this deal, and the Brewers might not be that interested because he only has two years of control left that will likely cost a total of around $10 million.
Starting pitcher Martin Perez and Corey Knebel are two other possible trade candidates that have had injury woes. Perez had Tommy John surgery in May 2014 while Knebel had a UCL sprain that did not need Tommy John. Of the two, Knebel would be more of a fit in a trade. Perez was a top prospect and should be a long-time member of the Rangers rotation, and the Brewers don't need starting pitching as much (though you can never have enough).
Knebel, drafted in 2013, already had a very brief call-up in the majors after crushing the minors to the tune of a 1.65 ERA and 12.3 K/9. He would be a great fit for the Brewers, but not as much if he needs surgery on his UCL anytime soon.
Someone like Tanner Scheppers could also be a player of interest. Not a big strikeout guy, he was still phenomenal in 2013 with a sub-2.00 ERA while allowing fewer than seven hits per nine innings. He was transitioned back to starting in 2014, but an elbow injury prematurely ended his season.
In the end, it's hard to say what the Brewers are looking at in a return. If they are able to get a package of Sardinas with a solid relief pitcher, I think you could chalk that up as pretty OK. It's not a sexy deal, especially for a long-time starter, but it would fill two big needs in the bench and bullpen.
A Sardinas/Knebel package doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility, but could be on the higher end of what to expect. For now, this is mostly just guesswork, though. We'll have to wait and see what the Brewers actually get.