So the winter meetings weren't what I was expecting or hoping for. I thought for sure there would be at least a couple of trades and maybe a free agent signing or two. Instead there was one trade with an interesting albeit nebulous return. No free agent signings. Two Rule 5 picks which I kind of liked. And the most satisfying part was the Garin Gecchini acquisition.
But let's be clear here. The winter meetings are not the end of the offseason. The Brewers were under no time constraints to make moves this week. I think most people understand that. But for the ones that don't, there are still 4 months left for the Brewers to do things. And they will. I don't know for certain what shape those moves will take, but I know they will happen.
Here are the rumors we heard that have been unresolved to this point:
Teams interested in Jonathan Lucroy/Brewers not motivated to move him
There were reportedly a large number of teams that asked on Lucroy's availability. The Brewers were reportedly not all that interested or motivated to move him. Here's my take away from this.
1. Just because teams ask about Lucroy doesn't mean they're actually considering moving him. It costs nothing to ask what it would take to trade for Lucroy. If you get surprised and think you can afford to part with the cost then you jump in. If it's too pricey move on. This applies to every team with every player ever.
2. Phrases like "not motivated to trade" are code. The translation is, "I know what my player is worth and if you want him get ready to pay through the nose for him." So if/when you see someone report that the Brewers don't "want" to move Lucroy you know they don't understand the code. Or they have a different agenda in saying that.
And sidenote: I'm tired of hearing how valuable Lucroy's contract is for the Brewers. It doesn't matter how cheap he is. The Brewers have a payroll south of $60M right now. How much (or little) they're paying him doesn't matter. It would only matter if they were coming close to hitting their payroll ceiling because then it would offer them the flexibility to spend in other areas. The only "value" it has is in a trade. So when you hear someone say stuff like that, either they don't understand the context or they have an agenda.
3. Just because a trade for Lucroy wasn't completed now, doesn't mean it won't be completed later. I'm not saying it will happen or won't happen though. I haven't a clue.
Teams asked about Segura's availability
That third point about Lucroy applies here as well of course. We didn't hear a lot about interest in Segura this week, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. We heard the Blue Jays asked about him and I think they make a lot of sense. The Padres were reportedly "scouring" the shortstop trade market. Segura could make sense there too.
I'm 50/50 on trading Segura right now. He's largely superfluous with Jonathan Villar on the roster, Yadiel Rivera providing back-up, and Orlando Arcia knocking on the door. However I think there is potential yet to be unlocked with Segura's bat. So he could marginally to moderately increase his trade value with a good half to full season. At the same time, if he does do that he and Arcia would make for a compelling middle infield. The risk is that he doesn't hit well and loses more value. I can't imagine his current value is much right now, but it's not nothing either.
Relievers are hot commodities right now
We didn't hear anything specific about teams inquiring on Brewers relievers outside of them getting inquiries. The relief market is bonkers this offseason. So it stands to reason the Brewers could sell a guy like Will Smith for a pretty penny. Andrew Miller is probably the only other high caliber reliever available now, and he might not actually be available. Again, I have no idea if the Brewers would trade Smith. But if they are open to it I think there's a good chance they could get a decent haul for him.
Brewers prioritizing a CF now
They likely filled their hole at third base with Garin Cecchini. Now David Stearns wants to find a center fielder. There are some interesting names left in free agency. Austin Jackson is one. Denard Span is another--though I'd note he carries injury risk and isn't very good defensively in CF anymore. I think the more interesting aspect here is what it means for Khris Davis and Domingo Santana.
Neither player should be relegated to the bench or AAA. I have to think a CF acquisition dramatically increases the likelihood that one of them--much more likely Davis--gets traded. Indians, Rangers, and Orioles have need of a RH bat and/or LF. Not that I've heard Khris Davis connected to them. In fact I haven't heard his name at all.
Brewers casting wide net for first baseman
With Adam Lind out of the picture the Brewers are entertaining any and all options to play first base. In addition to in-house candidate Jason Rogers, that includes free agents Chris Carter, Pedro Alvarez, Steve Pearce, and Daniel Nava. I suppose there's a chance they find a first baseman in trade, but I don't see any obvious fits at this time.
So those are the rumors and potential moves left to make. Now let's quickly review the things they did do.
Adam Lind Trade
This trade was about the process behind it more than the return it netted the Brewers. They got 3 very young pitchers a good 5 or more years away. They're so green and so far away that's it's very hard to know what they'll become. It's practically impossible, honestly. But the idea was to get three kids with a chance. The hope is that at least one of them reaches or beats his projection. As JP Breen points out, this is how Houston got pitchers David Paulino and Frances Martes. These are two pitchers that are well thought of now, but were relative unknowns when traded. That's not to suggest any of the kids the Brewers got will turn into something special. It's just similar process. It doesn't matter if all three flame out by the time they get to AA. The process is an intelligent one and it's worth the risk in my opinion.
Rule 5 Draft
The way I see it the Brewers got a low ceiling/high floor guy in Colin Walsh and a high risk/high reward guy in Zack Jones--although they aren't really risking anything so it's no risk/high reward. Walsh has some experience at the AA/AAA levels so playing at the MLB level won't be as much of a jump as it is for some Rule 5 guys. He's probably not going to be a starting regular but he hits well as a RHH and could be a nice compliment to the lefties Scooter Gennett and Garin Cecchini.
Zack Jones has one present plus pitch in his fastball. He sits in the upper 90's with it and can touch 100. His slider has the makings of major league average--remember that in context of baseball average is good--and it flashes plus. So he has the potential for 2 plus pitches. That in turn means he has high leverage potential. His command to date holds him back though. I did hear/read somewhere that past injuries slowed his development. Perhaps now that he's healthy he can take that step forward with his command. If he can the Brewers will have a competent reliever for nothing--in an era where relievers are getting paid big time.
Garin Cecchini Acquisition
I won't lie to you. This week was very dull. But the very last move the Brewers made saved it for me. I've been a fan of Garin Cecchini's for a while. I've been trying to think of a way the Brewers could trade for him for a few years now. It never really seemed like he was going to get a chance with the Red Sox. Now, thanks to the David Price signing, the Brewers were able to get him for essentially nothing. I have no way of knowing if he can regain his swing, but if he can the Brewers have found their third baseman for at least the next 6 seasons.
So that was the Brewers week at the winter meetings in a nutshell. It might have been a bit underwhelming. But they did accomplish a few goals. There are a few moves left to make, but they have four months to make them. All in all I'm pretty good with where they're at. What did you folks think?