It's arguable that the greatest strength of the Brewers' current roster is in the bullpen. GM David Stearns said that the club dealt from a position of great depth when they moved Francisco Rodriguez earlier in the winter, and their bullpen picture remains chocked full of hard-throwing, controllable talent. With so many potential late-inning options remaining, it could perhaps be beneficial for the club to consider moving another arm or two from their stable of pitching depth if it were possible to bring back some more valuable currency in prospects.
With building a strong bullpen now en vogue around the league thanks to the recent success of the Royals, there's no doubt plenty of interest around the league in any number of the Brewers' numerous high octane arms. According to a recent podcast from Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis, the Twins have lefty setup man Will Smith on their radar.
Wolfson says while the Twins feel "good" with their current roster heading into Spring Training, that Smith has "fans in the Twins' front office" and that "the Twins could make a trade for Will Smith." Wolfson also mentions Drew Storen of the Nationals and free agent Antonio Bastardo as potential targets for the Twins, though he notes that Storen's salary or Bastardo's desire for a three year contract could be impediments to deals for either of those two players. He also adds that nothing seems imminent at this time.
Smith would be the second left-hander that the club has dealt to Minnesota sin the last six months, though he'd be certain to bring back more in return than the PTBNL or cash that the Brewers got/will get in the Neal Cotts deal back in August.
Since coming to the Brewers prior to the 2014 season, Smith has been one of the most dominant strikeout pitchers in baseball. His 12.39 K/9 ranks eighth among qualified relievers over the last two seasons, and his 32.2% K rate ranks 13th. The 26 year old has posted a 3.21 ERA and 2.87 FIP with a 45% ground ball rate in 129.0 innings as a member of the Brewers, recording one save and fifty holds. His 2.1 fWAR over the last two years ranks 25th among 121 qualified MLB relievers.
Smith dominates hitters using a mid-90s heater and a deadly 82 MPH slider that is ranked as the ninth most effective among relievers since the start of 2014 (12.7 runs above average according to Pitch F/X). His command can waiver at times but thanks to a low .232 batting average against (despite a .340 BABIP) he has maintained a palatable 1.31 WHIP as a member of the Brew Crew.
Will is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter as a Super Two and he's projected to make $1.2 mil by MLB Trade Rumors in his first turn through the system. He remains under club control through the end of the 2019 season. His price tag is certainly lower than either of the other options that Wolfson listed, though he has by far the most upside and the Brewers should therefore be holding out for a good prospect package in return.
That shouldn't be a problem though because Minnesota has a strong farm system with no shortage of prospects that could be of interest to the Brewers. Max Kepler could potentially fill a long-term hole at first base and Adam Brett Walker II is a powerful outfielder who also happens to be a Milwaukee native and Milwaukee Lutheran high school alum. There's a surplus of interesting arms as well, including the likes of Kohl Stewart, Alex Meyer, and Stephen Gonsalves.
The recent signing of Chris Carter could be a sign that business has picked back up in the new year for the Brewers' front office. With several trade chips like Smith, Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura, etc remaining it certainly would not be a surprise if we see Slingin' Stearns make a few more deals before pitchers and catchers report in February.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs