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BCB Mailbag #7: Better late than never

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We'll be back to our regularly scheduled mailbag on Friday so get your questions in now!

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PJTweedy asks: "Question: Imagine an alternate universe where the Brewers hadn't signed Braun to an extension and instead he would've become a free agent this offseason. What sort of contract would Braun fetch on the open market? Would the Brewers have tried to re-sign him? Would the Brewers have given Braun the qualifying offer?"

So the extension Braun has right now is 5 years for $105 million with a mutual option for 2021 at $15M with a $4M buyout. I do think the Brewers would have extended the qualifying offer to him. Even with the PED stuff, the back, and the thumb I think he would have turned it down. So that means he would have draft pick compensation attached to him. I still think he would get a solid multi-year deal.

Most people generally assume he would have to settle for less. But let's remember they signed that extension in April of 2011. That's before the money available to players really exploded. Braun isn't a top tier player anymore, but five years and $100 million isn't top line money anymore either. Still, the market, his back/thumb, and PED stuff does all work against him. If I had to guess I think he might get something like 5/75. But I could also very easily see him get 5/100 too. So I guess that's the range I think he could get right now.

I do not think the Brewers would try to re-sign him. Which means they probably would have traded him before they had the opportunity to extend him the qualifying offer. But that's another question.

Stigmo wonders: "It has been fun to watch trades, the draft, and some unanticipated player development boost the farm system. What should our expectations be for talent infusion going forward? I guess what I'm trying to ask is, with 2-3 drafts that should bring high picks and tradeable assets like Lind, Segura, Khrush, and Luc, is it possible that we wind up with atop 3 farm system in a year or two?"

Well first off I don't think we should get our hopes up too high for the trade returns of Lind, Segura, and Davis. They do have trade value but it's not the type that's going to get a lot of high caliber prospects back. Think along the lines of the Parra trade or the Gallardo trade. Lucroy is different though. They should be able to get at least one really good prospect back for him if they do trade him this winter.

I'd also warn against getting hopes up too high for draft picks. They'll have the fifth overall pick next year which is great. But it's really hard to finish that low. So while I do think the Brewers can get a top 10 pick next year and possibly the year after that I wouldn't expect top 3 or even top 5 picks. You almost have to try to be that bad and the Brewers still will have some pretty reasonable MLB talent. The entire five man rotation could perform like mid-rotation starters next year, for example (notice I say "could" and not "will").

The farm system at the start of 2015 was somewhere between 19-27 depending on who you ask. I think now it's somewhere between 11-15. I would expect them to be closer to 11 than 15. Last weeks trades didn't move the needle. But if Lind, Segura, Davis, and Lucroy all get moved--which is definitely not a guarantee--it will move.

So we could be talking about the Brewers on the peripheral of the top 10 by spring training. Getting to the top 3 is a different matter though. Aside from Lucroy I don't see the Brewers being able to net and top tier prospects except for the draft and next year's international signing period. So they'll have to hit on their first picks in the next two drafts at least. I do have confidence they'll be able to do that. I'm a big fan of Ray Montgomery at this point.

Good seasons for guys like Trent Clark, Gilbert Lara, Monte Harrison, Demi Orimoloye, Devin Williams, Cody Ponce, and Kodi Medeiros could really help raise the system's profile too. So yeah I do think it's possible the Brewers could eventually find themselves with a top 3 system. But it'll take a lot of work.

Drezdn asks: "Oasis or Blur?"

Dishwalla

Drezdn also asks: "Why have teams seemingly been so trade happy in the past year and a half?"

Someone on Twitter made the point that a lot of these trades have been made by new general managers. They're often younger GMs. Maybe it's that they're more willing to take risks. Maybe they're looking to make their mark. Maybe it's youthful mistakes?

I think another aspect is that the past few free agent classes have been pretty weak. This year is pretty strong in starting pitching and outfielders, but nothing else. Next year's free agent class is a wasteland. So I bet that has impacted decision making as well.

Roguejim asks: "Who would you rather have as your 2016 starting shortstop, Jean Segura or All-Star Alcides Escobar?"

Honestly I think they're a lot closer in true talent level than most want to believe. I think Segura is a better defender than he gets credit for. FRAA and Statcast both agree. DRS thinks he's okay and UZR is just wrong about him. So defensively I think it's a wash.

Offensively they're very similar too. Neither has much pop, but I think Segura has more if he could only get to it. They both have 30 SB potential. Neither draws walks. Their strikeout rates are similar. For their careers Escobar has a 74 wRC+ and Segura has a 78. So it's close to a wash here, but I think Segura has more potential.

And that's the thing. Segura is still young enough that it's not impossible to see him improving. He was skipped over AAA entirely. He suffered a great personal loss last year in addition to some pretty freak physical trauma. He didn't see improvement in his triple slash line in 2015. But the Brewers had him working on a new plate approach and it shows up in his batted ball distribution. He stopped pulling everything. If he can take that approach into next season and be more comfortable with it he might start driving the ball.

I think people might also forget that Alcides Escobar wasn't really any good for the first few seasons he played at the major league level. He's also proven to be just a glove first guy with pretty far below league average offense. So I'm taking Jean Segura. Maybe I'm biased but I think he has more potential and at worst he's about as good as Escobar anyway.

Taterwithbacon has a request: "What is the most realistic return you can imagine for Lucroy? I mean for fun make a prediction; pick the team and name the actual prospects we get back. Check your magic 8 ball and just let us know what you see."

I think a fair trade for Lucroy should include one 60 grade prospect and two other solid prospects. But that's just a rough outline. It could be a 55 grade prospect and two other solid prospects. And just because we view a prospect in a certain light doesn't mean the Brewers do as well. They'll have their own evaluations of players and they might think more or less highly.

It's really impossible to guess what a fair trade is for those and many other reasons. When I write about that sort of thing I really try to stay away from doing it unless I hear something about a certain prospect/player being shopped. But if it's just for one I'll break my rule just this one.

Without any reason to believe it's likely I'll say the Nationals trade RHP Reynaldo Lopez, 2B/CF Wilmer Difo, and C Pedro Severino. Lopez saw a jump in his stock this year and has #2 ceiling with mid-rotation being a likely outcome. Difo could end up as an average to above average second baseman. Severino is very good defensively but his bat lags behind. If he can hit he's probably Martin Maldonado 2.0 but he'd easily be the Brewers top catching prospect.

It's very possible the Nationals balk at that prospect package. Both Lopez and Difo are legit. But the Nats built that uber rotation and they really need a better catcher than they have to make it worthwhile. Lucroy is one of the best in baseball and easily the best available. If it was too much I'd even be willing throw in Segura if I needed to sweeten the deal. They're losing Ian Desmond to free agency and Segura could be a stopgap until Trea Turner is really ready after which he could slide over to second base.

But I'm probably way off and the return--if Lucroy actually is traded which is far from guaranteed--will be completely different.

AKBrewerfan asks: "Why is there a magpie flying around in the library I'm in? And why does it keep flying the same route over and over again?"

Either really good or really bad acid?

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Sorry if I didn't get to your question this time around. Also sorry about the lateness with which I published this mailbag. The trades last week kind of pushed a lot of things back. But we'll still have another mailbag this Friday. So don't forget to get your questions in now.