The Milwaukee Brewers are gearing up for an exciting finish to the 2018 season. The team currently holds the top Wild Card spot while chasing their NL Central division rivals the Chicago Cubs. If the Brewers want a good shot at securing a playoff appearance and winning once in the playoffs, it’s obvious to anyone that they need to make some upgrades at key spots. In order to make those upgrades, the Crew will need to dip into its plethora of prospects and depth. Let’s take an inventory of the Milwaukee Brewers trade assets ahead of any potential deals.
The Best of the Best
The Brewers have three prospects who are as close to being untouchable as it gets: Keston Hiura, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. These pieces are all known pretty well by the Brewers’ fanbase. Hiura is a plus-hitting second baseman and Milwaukee’s top prospect, quickly shooting his way through the minor leagues. Burnes and Peralta are now contributing at the major league level and look to have fantastic major league futures ahead of them. If a team is looking to get one of these three prospects, the return has to be big. There are few names I can think of on the current market that would justify giving up one of these three. Perhaps a Jacob deGrom or Chris Archer.
The Major Leaguers
It’s no secret that the Crew has some expendable talent that’s already showed an ability to compete at the major league level.
First is Domingo Santana, who has been having an off year, to say the least. After the front office acquired Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, it was apparent that Santana was the odd man out. The team still attempted to make room for him, but Santana’s bat went cold and he was sent down to AAA. The right fielder still has value to any major league team looking for outfielders, and we know he can compete at All-Star levels. Still, teams will use his poor 2018 performance and the perception of his lousy defense to negate him being a headlining piece in any trade.
After Domingo, the Brewers do have Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff was a universal top-100 prospect entering the season. After splitting time between the rotation and the pen, he graduated from the lists but still carries projection and value. It’s important to note that his value is below that of someone like Burnes or Peralta, although you could probably figure that out by yourself. His projection is still a #3 or 4 starter and teams value that.
Next is Keon Broxton. Broxton certainly holds value but nothing substantial. The outfielder can play all three positions well, but Brewers fans know better than anyone else that he is a hot and cold hitter. His combination of speed and power is indeed valuable, and he’d likely be an everyday player on any other team, but he probably holds even less value than Santana.
Finally, we have Orlando Arcia. The slick-fielding shortstop probably isn’t going anywhere, but if Milwaukee wanted to acquire a middle infielder with control from a rebuilding team, he could certainly be on the table. Arcia’s trade value is probably at the worst it’s been in recent memory, but maybe you could still could convince a team that Arcia can be headlining piece with years of team control left and decent offensive potential. It’s incredibly unlikely Arcia goes anywhere, especially at the deadline.
Second Tier Prospects
These players are the most likely to headline a trade for any plus rental or mid-grade player with control. Prospects falling into this category include Lucas Erceg, Luis Ortiz, Brett Phillips, Tristen Lutz, Corey Ray and Jacob Nottingham. Other names are on the edge of this list, but whether players are there depend on how the other team’s scouting department ranks them.
Phillips, Lutz and Ray all fit into the same bubble: exciting prospect with years of control in a system overflowing with outfielders. Phillips is major league ready but has some offensive concerns. He’s good defensively and will only get better. Lutz has a very high ceiling, but there’s substantial risk being as far away from the major leagues. Finally, Ray is having his best offensive season yet; however, there’s still exceptional concern about his offensive profile. If teams are high on him, he could be the most valuable player on this list.
Ortiz was one of the key pieces coming back to Milwaukee in the Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress trade. He has impressive stuff, but there are concerns about his delivery because of health concerns. When he is healthy, one could argue he’s the best pitcher in the system.
Finally, Erceg is one of the few third basemen the Brewers have to offer. With solid defense, a power swing from the left side, teams would be enticed by his skillset. On top of that, he is currently blocked by Travis Shaw (and maybe Jesus Aguilar) at third.
Nottingham is currently the Brewers’ top catching prospect. He’s made some appearances with the team in the majors this year but needs regular reps at AAA. He’s a likely contender behind the plate next year meaning David Stearns could be reluctant to trade him.
Third Tier Prospects
When acquiring key role players that can help the Brewers fill prominent roles, these are the prospects who could headline a return package. I would rank Trent Grisham, Jake Gatewood, Zack Brown, Marcos Diplan, Troy Stokes, Trey Supak and Kodi Medeiros.
Brown, Diplan, Supak and Medeiros all fall under the same umbrella: high-ceiling pitchers with significant risk. Brown is the leader of the pack after a dominant 2018. He’s showed the ability to be a solid starter at least and could even fit into the second tier category for the right team. Diplan and Medeiros have the most potential but struggle with command that they will likely take on bullpen roles if/when they reach the majors. That’s still valuable to any team and either could be dominant in the back end. Supak is a likely starter but has his ups and down. His performances have been impressive, but his ceiling is that of a four or five.
Grisham and Gatewood are similar to the pitchers on this tier. When trading with the right team, they can hold a fair amount of value, but their weaknesses make that unlikely. Gatewood’s likely role is a utility corner player. He has excellent power but plenty of swing and miss while only being passable defensively. Grisham still has a lot of room for growth but has struggled through most of his minor league career. Teams are still high on his projection and hit tool, making him valuable in the right offer.
Milwaukee is loaded with pieces to help them get the players they want. The team has plenty additional depth we didn’t look at in this article to help them get a starter, bat or reliever. Whether it’s Brian Dozier or Chris Archer, if David Stearns wants piece he can get them.