Over the last several weeks, we've discussed many players on the Brewers current roster that could be trade candidates. We've mainly focused on players that could bring back a good return or players who are nearing the end of their contract. However, one player that didn't fall into either of those categories was Jason Rogers. He didn't expect to get much in a trade, had plenty of team control left, and was the expected heir to the starting first base job. All of that makes his trade yesterday a very surprising move.
Many of us were caught off guard when this trade happened, including myself. There was no indication that the Brewers wanted to move Rogers. He was down playing Winter Baseball when the trade happened. We were expecting to go into the 2016 season with him as the starting first baseman. Now, the plans for first base will take a dramatically different direction from 2015. That is the most shocking part of the trade.
While it's a surprise, it's not necessarily a bad move. In fact, considering the return the Brewers got for him, it's a good move. Keon Broxton received high praise while in the Diamondbacks system, earning Baseball America's award for the top athlete in their system. He fell off the radar a bit and his contract was purchased by the Pirates before the 2014 season, but his 2015 season was very encouraging. Early reports from the Brewers writers suggest that Broxton could make an impact in center field during the 2016 season. At 25, he's probably not a star in the making, but could provide an impact for the Brewers in the near future. Meanwhile, Trey Supak is a highly regarded pitcher in the Pirates system. According to MLB Pipeline, he was ranked #15 in the Pirates system. He has spent two years at Rookie-level ball, but is only 19 and has plenty of time to develop.
Of course, the trade leaves a big hole in the Brewers lineup. With Rogers gone, the first base spot is wide open for next season. Rogers was the only true first baseman left for the Brewers. It's possible that the Brewers could look at Shane Peterson, Garin Cecchini, or Will Middlebrooks there, but that wouldn't be ideal. This makes the need for a first baseman even more of a priority, and the Brewers have to be looking for someone to sign to fill that hole.
So, if the Brewers are left with such a gaping hole to fill, why trade Rogers? Why not hold onto him and play him at first base next year? Here's what the answer is: The Brewers were offered a deal that was too good to pass up (this was confirmed by Adam McCalvy last night). The return that the Brewers got in Broxton and Supak is amazing, especially for a guy like Rogers, who was seen as a player with limited value. That's not saying that Rogers wouldn't have been good for the Brewers. He could have filled the first base position well for a few years. However, he wasn't expected to be part of the next contending Brewers team, just a player to fill the roster during the rebuild. For that reason, he was expendable.
The departure of Jason Rogers is a surprising move for the team, with an increased need for a first baseman a result of the trade. However, sometimes a deal is just too good to pass up. The players that the Brewers got in return make this a great trade. Plus, with the Brewers not expected to contend next year, the need for a first baseman is much lower than other years. While it creates more problems in the short term, it's a move that should further strengthen the team in the future.