Earlier this week, reports had come out that the Brewers could start trading off assets soon after an abysmal start to the season. At the time, that seemed a little tenuous: Of course the team could start selling off players if they keep losing, eventually.
However, a report late Friday night from Bob Nightengale of USA Today has the Brewers actively calling other teams and informing them that a handful of veterans on the team are up for grabs. Nightengale specifically mentions players like Kyle Lohse, Aramis Ramirez and Matt Garza as being on the trade block.
Basically, the Brewers are willing to trade off the guys that don't necessarily play as big a potential role on the future of the team. E.g. the Carlos Gomez's and Jonathan Lucroy's of the team aren't the kinds of players the team is looking to part with, despite being the players that would obviously bring in the greatest return.
In fact, Jonathan Lucroy may be untouchable in a trade, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman says Gomez may be, as well. Meanwhile Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Lucroy and Jimmy Nelson are the two players that could be untouchable. According to Heyman:
One rival exec gave his list of marketable Brewers: Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse, Francisco Rodriguez. That exec saw Jonathan Lucroy as likely untouchable (Gomez may be too) and thought Matt Garza and Ryan Braun may be overpriced at this point.
Lohse, Garza and Ramirez haven't exactly helped their trade value this year, though. Lohse has one quality start in five tries and a 7.28 ERA. Garza has been OK and could fit as a back-rotation guy for a contender, but is owed another $25 million in 2016-2017 and has a vesting option for 2018. That's a hefty salary for a pitcher that may well not be worth it. Ramirez has announced he is planning to retire after 2015 and is hitting just .214/.236/.357. He'd likely have most value to an AL team needing a designated hitter.
In essence, the Brewers would be selling low on all three of those players. But if they weren't selling low, they probably wouldn't be selling at all. A big reason the team is 5-18 is because these three players (not just them, of course) have struggled so much.
Again, though, selling those three may be a relatively easy decision for the Brewers, who will need to decide just how far they want to go in any retooling/rebuilding efforts. Trading Lohse/Garza/Ramirez is obviously much closer to the retooling side of the spectrum; with smart moves they could be right back in contention next year if they go that route. But that will be playing on borrowed time. Trading more valuable players -- Gomez, Segura, Lucroy -- will net them fantastic returns but that will require a longer window to get back to contention. And there's no guarantee any prospects that come back in those deals will pan out. The last thing anyone wants is for Milwaukee to revert back to their 1990s form.
It seems like barring an incredible hot streak soon, we could see the Brewers start trading away some of their key players. How far they will go remains to be seen.