The Milwaukee Brewers are in a position to do some damage this summer.
As of today, the Brew Crew is tied for the most wins in the National League with the Atlanta Braves and sit above the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. With some key moves to help the team ahead of this trade deadline, the Brewers could pounce to make an impact this year.
According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Milwaukee is already looking into some upgrade for the starting rotation. The search has led them north of the border into Canada as the team is reportedly eyeing the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to a source, the Blue Jays have been extensively scouting the Brewers' system. J.A. Happ could be on Milwaukee's radar, as the Brewers need a starter and the lefty is one of the top arms expected to be traded this month.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 2, 2018
Feinsand immediately reports that the Jays’ scouts are spread out across the Brewers farm, scouting players they could want in a potential trade package.
The MLB.com reporter ties the Crew to Blue Jays starter JA Happ. Milwaukee was connected to the veteran lefty in rumors last year, but never acted on any desire to move forward. Happ has had better seasons but has been reliable for the Jays. In 102.2 innings, he’s seen a 4.03 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. FIP favors Happ’s performance, claiming that the lefty is responsible for 3.65 runs/9 but DRA actually values his performance less at 4.22. Happ is in the last year of his contract with the Blue Jays and wouldn’t cost nearly as much as the premium arms on the market.
There is a good possibility that if Milwaukee is talking to the Jays, they’re discussing more than just Happ. Toronto has a plethora of players that could help the Brewers improve, like Yangervis Solarte. Solarte would be an immediate upgrade over the Crew’s current bevy of infielders. He’s having a solid offensive season with 15 home runs and a line of .250/.309/.444 in just 81 games while manning second, shortstop and third. There’s even some cause to think Solarte’s offensive numbers could improve, as his BABIP is at .250 while his batted ball profile shows he’s making good contact with a good amount of line drives. Milwaukee could keep the middle infielder for two more seasons thanks to two options on the back of Solarte’s contract, totaling $14 million with just $1.5 million in buyouts.
While Happ and Solarte would likely be the players most available to Milwaukee, the options don’t stop there. The Jays have a strong backend of the bullpen with players like Tyler Clippard and Seungwhan. Former Brewer Marco Estrada is another starter that is certainly available on the trade market. It’s also hard not to dream of acquiring a starting pitcher like Marcus Stroman, although it’s incredibly unlikely that Toronto would want to deal Stroman in the middle of an awful year, but he is only controlled for two more seasons after 2018.
Whatever the Brewers do, it’s obvious they are doing the due diligence when looking at their option to become a better team as they head towards the playoffs.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus