Coming into the season, there were a lot of mixed feelings on how the Brewers might perform this year. Some (myself included) thought they were fringe playoff contenders. Some thought they would be fighting to stay out of the basement of a tough NL Central. Some figured they would be somewhere in between, which was probably the most reasonable assumption.
Now we are 20 games in and the Brewers are just 4-16 and frankly are not looking like they will be a very successful team at all. If this losing slide continues, it sounds like the Brewers are prepared to cut their losses and start building towards future seasons. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Brewers 'could sell soon' if they don't start winning.
there's belief brewers could sell soon if things don't turn. lohse/garza could be in play. one gm: "they have good players"— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 28, 2015
What 'soon' means is ambiguous and leaves room for interpretation. Also what turning it around means. I'd assume the severity of not turning would dictate the speed with which the Brewers would be willing to sell.
If the Brewers do decide to trade away assets, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza could be among those dealt says Heyman. While pitching is always valuable, neither player has shown much in 2015 to dictate a big return. Lohse should bounce back after his rough start, but is only under contract through this season while Garza is under contract through 2017.
My gut feeling is that either player could be a similar caliber trade to the Jake Peavy deal last year, depending on how well Lohse and Garza pitch until hypothetically being dealt. That wouldn't be so bad -- the Red Sox got the Giants 2nd (Edwin Escobar) and 8th (Heath Hembree) best prospects in the deal (using John Sickels' pre-2014 rankings). Escobar was also rated the #56 prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the season, though he had a lot of struggles last year that took away some of his value. Hembree has a big arm, but control issues have prevented him from bigger numbers.
Basically, the Red Sox got two prospects that were clearly talented, but had question marks. Both were also close to the majors, which is something the Brewers tend to value in trades.
If the Brewers really decide to pack it up and trade away assets, they might also think about trading Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez. Those are the two biggest assets on the team (along with maybe Wily Peralta, who the team probably wouldn't deal this early in his career). Gomez and Lucroy could be blockbuster deals, but would also be the hardest to see go and would likely require Milwaukee to more or less give up on contending the next 2-3 seasons.
Jean Segura could also be a name involved in trade talks. Quality shortstops are hard to come by and there have been rumors of teams calling about Segura. The Brewers also have a couple good shortstop prospects coming up in their system. However, Segura is still under team control for several years and Milwaukee has already looked at an extension for him so it seems less likely they would part with the speedy infielder.
Nothing is imminent, though. Heyman's tweet is something that could be pretty reasonably ascertained just by watching the Brewers play. Of course they 'could' trade guys if they keep losing. You 'could' say that about a lot of teams.
For Milwaukee, it might make sense at a certain point to start dealing assets. If they do earlier, they might get more value rather than waiting until the deadline. It hasn't recently been a very Brewers thing to trade away players and build for the future, but that seems to be where they are headed sooner or later.
The Brewers don't look close to starting a big winning streak anytime soon. If they don't, expect more and more trade rumors as the season progresses.