Slingin' David Stearns and the Brewers have already had an active offseason, but with the Winter Meetings set to begin next week we may have only scratched the surface at this point. Stearns has been looking to add young, controllable talent all winter and said yesterday when asked if he'll be busy that "I imagine we are going to be heavily engaged."
Rumors have already started swirling about several players on the Brewers roster. The club has several obvious trade candidates like Adam Lind, Jean Segura, and Jonathan Lucroy, and they have been said to be listening to offers for any player on their roster. According to a tweet from John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM in Arizona, the Diamondbacks might have interest in one of the Brewers' young pitchers.
Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta also on Dbacks radar as Arizona main focus is upgrading starting pitching. Lackey/Leake still in play as well— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) December 3, 2015
The Diamondbacks have been said to be pursuing additions to their starting rotation and according to Ken Rosenthal, they are wary of parting with their first round draft pick (13th overall) in order to sign a free agent who has rejected a Qualifying Offer.
Wily Peralta, of course, was a highly touted prospect coming up through the Brewers system after being signed as a 16 year old international free agent in 2005. He overcame Tommy John surgery in 2007 and eventually became a top-100 prospect, tearing through the minor leagues with his terrific fastball-slider combo. He made his big league debut in 2012 and was inserted into the major league rotation full-time in 2013.
Many believed, myself included, that big things were on the horizon for Peralta after his breakout 2014 campaign when he won 17 games and posted a 3.53 ERA in 198.2 innings for Milwaukee. However, his low strikeout rates gave some pause and performance estimators like FIP and DRA thought his earned run average should have been higher than 4.10.
Wily failed to follow up his strong performance in 2015 and struggled mightily throughout most of the season. Injuries limited him to just 20 starts and 108.2 innings pitched this past season and he managed only a 4.72 ERA. Estimators consider even that poor mark "lucky," as his Deserved Run Average of 5.85 painted him as one of the league's worst pitchers in 2015. His strikeout rate (12.6%), walk rate (7.7%), and HR/9 (1.16) all took steps in the wrong direction, and his fastball velocity dropped by more than a mile-per-hour (though it averaged a plus 94.5 MPH).
Even in spite his struggles last year, Peralta remains an intriguing talent with mid-rotation upside. He throws gas and can routinely hit the mid-to-upper 90s with his sinking fastball. He's one of the better ground ball pitchers in the game and induced worm-burners 51.6% of the time last season. He even made nice strides with his changeup, which was rated at 1.4 runs above average according to Pitch F/X in 2015. Perhaps a new organization could try and coax more changeups out of Big Wily (he's thrown it just 6.0% of the time during his career) and possibly help him generate more strikeouts and rely less on pitching to contact.
Coming off of a down year, it's hard to gauge the 26 year old's value and the club would probably be selling low on Peralta if they traded him at this time. He still has three years of control remaining and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn a very reasonable $2.8 mil in his first turn through arbitration. The Diamondbacks do have some players who could be of some interest to the Brewers, including Brandon Drury or Jake Lamb who could help plug the club's gaping hole at third base over the long-term. It is worth noting that Stearns has stated that he's less concerned about a player's position than he is about overall talent at this point in the rebuilding process.
The Brewers are stacked with right handed starting pitching depth in the upper minors and major league level right now, so dealing Peralta is something the club could certainly afford to do. With plenty of control remaining over him, however, Stearns could very well hold on to him and hope that he rebuilds his value with a strong start next season.