The hot stove has already started burning, as we've seen a flurry of activity so far in the offseason's early going. It's already been reported that our beloved local nine is listening to offers on all of their players, though GM David Stearns has yet to execute his first trade. That's not to say there has been a shortage of interest, however, as Stearns has acknowledged he's already been having "productive conversations" regarding several players on the Brewers' roster.
There's little doubt that catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the Brewers' strongest remaining trade piece. He struggled in the early going of 2015 before missing more than month with a broken toe, but hit a solid .282/.342/.420 with seven home runs in in 364 plate appearances after returning to action on June 1st. He of course comes with an outstanding defensive reputation and is a true two way threat, as well. Luc's outstanding 2014 season may prove to be an outlier, but he's still a well above average producer at the plate (career 110 wRC+) when one considers that the league average catcher managed only an 85 wRC+ in 2015. On top of his strong production, there is also the fact that he can be controlled for only a total of only $9.25 mil over the next two seasons.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Rangers are one club who could have interest in Milwaukee's current "face of the franchise." He writes that Rangers' GM Jon Daniels checked in on the availability of Lucroy prior to the trade deadline (and was turned away by Doug Melvin), and adds that Daniels' said prior to last week's GM Meetings that adding a catcher would be a priority this winter.
The Rangers gave up a bevy of prospects to convince the Phillies to part with Cole Hamels, but they still have a myriad of players who could be of interest to Milwaukee. It's unlikely Texas would part with Joey Gallo, but the likes of Nomar Mazara or Dillon Tate could probably serve as a headliner piece. Another two quality prospects would probably get the deal done. Milwaukee could have particular interest in someone like Ryan Cordell, who has five average-or-better tools and is able to play third base.
Grant goes on to write that Daniels said he might be more interested in adding a partner to pair with incumbent catcher Robinson Chirinos than in making a splashier addition, which would lessen the likelihood of a Lucroy-to-Texas blockbuster. Interestingly, though, Grant notes that now that Matt Wieters has accepted the Qualifying Offer and will remain in Baltimore, the Brewers will have a "more robust market" for their backstop. The word around the GM Meetings was that Stearns was receptive to trade talks about regarding Lucroy, which is consistent with previous reports.
Personally, I didn't have a very strong feeling about the possibility of Lucroy trade when the offseason began. My feelings have since changed on the matter, especially now that Matt Wieters is off the market. For any club that is looking to upgrade behind the plate, the first call is now likely to be to Milwaukee. In addition to Texas, Seattle, Washington, the White Sox, Detroit, or the Angels are just a few of the clubs that could conceivably be in search of help at catcher for next season. The Brewers should easily be able command to at least a top 100 prospect plus another two quality prospects in exchange for Lucroy. And I now believe that there's a pretty good chance that some club will end up meeting that asking price this winter.