Thus far during his short tenure as General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Slingin' David Stearns has shown that he's very willing to work the waiver wire in search of talent to help the organization. Some of the players that he's acquired have been quite successful so far (Junior Guerra, Kirk Nieuwenhuis), some haven't (Sam Freeman, Michael Kirkman), and the jury is still out on others for various reasons (Rymer Liriano, Sean Nolin, Garin Cecchini). Since Stearns has arrived in Milwaukee his mantra has been to stockpile as much "young, controllable talent" as possible, and another interesting opportunity to add a young player to the fold has presented itself in the last few days.
The Texas Rangers made several roster moves on Monday, including the call-ups of Joey Gallo and Jared Hoying. To make room on the 40 man roster for Hoying, GM Jon Daniels designated 26 year old third baseman Patrick Kivlehan, whom they had received from the Mariners over the winter as a part of the Leonys Martin trade, for assignment.
At the time he was DFA'd, Kivlehan was ranked as the Rangers' 24th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 2012 fourth-round pick by Seattle has made a slow and steady ascent through the minors, but his struggles in AAA (.184/.252/.262 in 155 plate appearances) and the fact that he's buried on the depth chart behind Adrian Beltre, Gallo, and Ryan Cordell lead the organization to deem him expendable.
That's where Stearns and the Brewers come in. Third base is a position of obvious weakness throughout the organization and the addition of someone like the right-handed hitting Kivlehan would help to shore up the depth at the hot corner. Despite his struggles in 2016 (which may have something to do with his .239 BABIP, a mark that is a good bit below his career average) Kivlehan actually had a solid showing in his first go-around at the minors' highest level; he slashed .256/.313/.453 with 22 home runs in 518 plate appearances for the Mariners' AAA affiliate last season.
Patrick has hit 12+ homers in each of his minor league seasons prior to 2016 owns a career .280/.345/.465 slash with 71 long balls across 2,125 minor league plate appearances. He projects to have about average power at the major league level, though his hit tool may be a tick below average. Strikeouts aren't as significant of a concern here (21.6% career K rate) as they are with some players within Milwaukee's system, and he's shown a decent eye at the plate with about and 8% career walk rate.
Kivlehan doesn't possess the strongest arm or the best range, but he's an adequate enough defender at third base and is also capable of playing first and the corner outfield. He is by no means a future star, but Patrick looks like he could perhaps have the chance to become an average regular capable of producing about 2 WAR in an everyday role if given the opportunity. With his defensive versatility and decent pop, he could also potentially be deployed as a utilityman and bat off the bench for Milwaukee's next contending team.
The Brewers' roster has essentially been in flux throughout the whole season and that will only continue as we come closer to the trade deadline. Bringing Kivlehan into the fold would give the Brewers added insurance in the case that 1B Chris Carter, 3B Aaron Hill, or both players are traded, especially given the middling play of their potential replacements down in the minors. Garin Cecchini (.259/.326/.371) and Andy Wilkins (.254/.317/.454) have been only okay with the Sky Sox this year, while Will Middlebrooks (.180/.195/.306) has been an unmitigated disaster. Kivlehan could also provide some roster flexibility inasmuch as he was only added to a 40-man roster for the first time this past winter, meaning 2016 is his first option season and he can be optioned to the minor leagues again in 2017 and 2018 without issue.
The Rangers have another eight days to either trade Kivlehan or place him on waivers and it'd probably only take something like cash considerations to convince Texas to agree to a deal. Milwaukee could then send him to the Sky Sox and see if he can break out of his extended slump and prove worthy of a shot at the major league level. Given his pedigree, the level of organizational need, and the low-risk nature of these types of deals, attempting to acquire Kivlehan seems like a no-brainer for Slingin' Stearns and the Brewers to me.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs