Opening Day is now just one week away for the Milwaukee Brewers, and the starting rotation has yet to really sort itself out. The club still possesses seven healthy starters for five spots, which has lead some pitching-needy teams to scout out Brewer arms to help shore up their rotation depth. One of those teams is the Texas Rangers, who reportedly had several club officials present on Saturday to watch Wily Peralta’s start against the Kansas City Royals.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers are seeking “controllable, affordable pitching that can contribute in 2017 and beyond.” Peralta certainly fits into that mold, as he has just 3.160 years of service time coming into this season. He is set to earn $4.275 mil in 2017 and is controllable for another two seasons after this one via arbitration.
The Rangers could certainly use some major league quality pitching depth, as the club is dealing with a shortage of healthy starters this spring. Neither Tyson Ross nor Andrew Cashner are expected to be ready for Opening Day, and Chi Chi Gonzalez figures to be out until at least June with a UCL issue. Texas has a pair of stalwarts in Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish at the top of their rotation, but according to the depth chart on their official website their numbers 3 through 5 in the rotation are Martin Perez (4.39 ERA in 2016), A.J. Griffin (5.07 ERA in 2016), and Mike Hauschild, a 27 year old who has never pitched in the big leagues.
It has been several years since Peralta was considered one of the more promising pitching prospects in baseball, and he’s struggled since putting up a 3.53 ERA in 198.2 innings back in 2014. He dealt with an oblique injury in 2015 while posting a 4.72 ERA/5.68 DRA in 20 starts, and was demoted to the minor leagues last June after pitching to a 6.68 ERA across his first 13 starts in 2016. After ironing out his mechanics and regaining some lost velocity, Big Wily was recalled in August and posted much better numbers down the stretch. During his final 10 starts he put up a 2.92 ERA and 51:16 K/BB ratio in 61.2 innings. He’s pitched well this spring, too, allowing just one earned run in 12.2 innings, though with a modest 7:5 K/BB ratio. For his career, Peralta owns a 42-48 record with a 4.18 ERA/4.62 DRA in 647.1 innings pitched with a 459:225 K/BB ratio and a 53% ground ball rate.
The Brewers and Rangers have a recent history of engaging in trade talks, as it was just last summer that the two clubs completed a blockbuster that sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas in exchange for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell. A deal for Wily Peralta would obviously be nowhere near that magnitude, however. The soon to be 28 year old would be something of a buy-low candidate for the Rangers, a pitcher who is coming off of two consecutive sub-par seasons and has a few noticeable warts in his profile (including fringey command/control, below average K rate, trouble getting lefties out, and no third pitch) and would likely require only a mid-tier prospect to be surrendered in return. For the Brewers, the move’s main draw would be that it allows them to thin out a crowded rotation field full of lower upside, back-end type starters (Anderson, Garza, Milone, Nelson, Peralta) and make it easier to give extended looks to top prospects like Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff, or Jorge Lopez later on in the season.
Manager Craig Counsell has said that he’ll have more news regarding Milwaukee’s starting rotation on Tuesday, so we will have to see if trading away some pitching depth will be a part of that announcement.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prosepctus and MLB.com