Has your head stopped spinning yet? Mine has not which makes it very hstf to write. David Stearns is a m--------ing madman! He has made 9 trades and turned the 40-man roster over by something like 20 players since taking the reigns in November. His most recent move--trading Khris Davis to the Athletics for catcher Jacob Nottingham and RHP Bubba Derby--might be my favorite move yet. And in executing this trade, Stearns has solved two problems.
The first problem he solved was one of those "good problems." The Brewers had too many starting caliber outfielders---Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Domingo Santana, Rymer Liriano--and not enough starting roles. Clearly, with the removal of Khris Davis, the path to full playing time has been opened for both Domingo Santana and Rymer Liriano.
On a side note, this also improves the potential outfield defense, at least in the corners. Ryan Braun is best suited for left field--he's got the most experience there and his arm is average at best. He's going to be better there than Davis was--even though he wasn't as bad as some people seem to think. And Santana is better in RF defensively than Braun. He has a huge throwing arm. So both outfield corners have been upgraded defensively now.
The second problem was most certainly not a good problem to have. It was, in my opinion, the biggest problem the Brewers faced: They had no real catching prospects of which to speak. That position in the minors was as barren as any position in any farm system across the other 29 clubs. The top options at AAA were a minor league journeyman and a catcher that hits well, but probably can't actually, you know, catch. AA didn't look much better. Arguably the top catching prospect in the entire system was Carlos Leal. A catcher in college, he was drafted as a reliever, pitched for a year--poorly, then reconverted to catcher where he hit the cover off the ball--in low-A as a 25 year old.
So acquiring Jacob Nottingham is a big deal. He's still something of a work in progress. The bat is big time. But behind the plate he can get a little stiff. Still, he made real tangible improvements last year.
everything you need to know about Nottingham: pic.twitter.com/0FkVUDC1O7— Craig Goldstein (@cdgoldstein) February 12, 2016
MLB Pipeline recently updated their position by position top ten lists. Nottingham was ranked 8th on that list. Baseball Prospectus ranked Nottingham 66th on their 2016 Top 101, now giving the Brewers five players on that list. This is a pretty solid get for 4 years of Khris Davis.
You all probably know by now how much I like Khris Davis. I think he's very underrated for two reasons: His awful throwing arm and his strike out rate. I believe he gains back a lot of defensive value lost by his arm, with his average or better range in LF, the good routes he takes, and the fact that he plays hard every day. As for the K%, well that's more of an old school complaint. He has immense power and started to supplement it with a walk rate in 2015 that started to mirror his minor league rate. He's a real threat offensively and might be getting a bit better with experience.
Even still, when you add all that up, we're talking about an average bat first regular. Good, but not great, and probably not really above average. Still, that's better than his detractors who claim he's not even a major league caliber talent. And honestly, I think these days a two win regular tends to be underrated by the average fan. But to get a catcher with the potential Nottingham possesses is huge. If Bubba Derby ends up contributing to the major league team some day, that's just gravy on the cake. What? How do you eat your cake?
I am sad to see Khris Davis go. He was one of those underdogs I loved rooting for. And when he was on, man could he do some amazing things with his bat. But hey, maybe Domingo Santana and/or Rymer Liriano can fill that void in my heart now. And when Nottingham is ready to take over as the catcher of the future, none of that will matter. What an incredible job Doug Melvin and David Stearns did and are going to make the Brewers future a bright one.
I've said it before, and I have a feeling I'm going to be able to continue saying this for a long time, folks this is an exciting time to be a Brewers fan!