The Brewers recently kicked off their trade season by sending Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for a pair of prospects. It was a very solid return considering Hill’s value, but it was a relatively minor trade compared to what Brewers fans are preparing themselves for. Jonathan Lucroy has been part of trade rumors since the offseason began. And today we have more speculation. This time it comes from Ken Rosenthal.
He reports the Brewers are heavily scouting the Rangers’ Class A Rookie League team. He further surmises this could be in preparation for a possible Jonathan Lucroy trade. The Rangers have long been linked with the Brewers All-Star catcher. They were said to covet him over the winter. And he certainly would upgrade their team, so it makes sense they’d be willing to swing a trade for him.
However it would a lot, and any teenage prospect coming back in this deal would likely have to be the third or fourth player in the deal. So perhaps we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions here. Teams are always scouting other teams so it’s not even that unusual to have Brewers scouts at a Rangers game. But that’s no fun. So for sake of argument, let’s assume the Brewers are in trade talks with the Rangers. There are other Brewers players they might have interest in.
Rosenthal notes the Rangers are in dire need of starting pitching and relief. While the Brewers only have Zach Davies—whom I would assume won’t be traded—and Junior Guerra—whom I could see go—performing well right now, they do have a strong bullpen. The Marlins tried to get Jeremy Jeffress and he’s reportedly “very much available.” While he won’t fetch as much as Lucroy, he should get the Brewers a very nice return. Will Smith will certainly be of interest to teams as well. Though with his strikeouts down, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers hold onto him for a while yet. They have several more years of control and don’t need to sell low.
Those two have been getting the headlines, but tere is one other reliever I think teams will be fighting over: Tyler Thornburg. In terms of fWAR he’s currently tied with Jeffress at 0.6. And while he has had an issue with home runs—1.29 Hr/9—he’s got the Brewers best strike out rate: 34.8%. That’s not just “good for the Brewers.” That’s currently the 10th best strike out rate among qualified relievers in all of baseball. Thornburg doesn’t have the “proven closer” label, which might lower his value, but he does come with three more years of team control. So the Brewers can still ask for a solid package of prospects.
It’s impossible to say what the Rangers are looking to acquire from the Brewers, if they’re looking to acquire anyone at all. But there do seem to be a number of players that make sense here. The Rangers have the farm system to get any one of those players too. The trade deadline is August 1 this year. It’s going to be a very interesting 21 days...
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs