The loudest cry from the fan base in the Cream City this season has been for the Milwaukee Brewers to “GET A STARTING PITCHER!!!” Well, at least according to reports, they’ve landed one in advance of today’s postseason eligibility deadline:
#Brewers get Gio Gonzalez, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 31, 2018
Nats have traded Gio Gonzalez to the Brewers for two Minor Leaguers, a source confirms @Ken_Rosenthal's report.— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) August 31, 2018
Gonzalez, 33, is the owner of a solid 3.71 ERA and 3.63 FIP across nearly 1,800 innings during 11 MLB seasons. 2018 has been one of his worst in terms of run prevention, however. Gio has worked to a 4.57 ERA in 145.2 innings this year while issuing his most walks since 2009 (4.32 BB/9) and recording his fewest strikeouts since 2010 (7.67 K/9). He is still limiting hard contact rather well at 30.6%, and his .319 BABIP is 24 points higher than his career average. At 105, FIP- still feels he’s a below-average starter this year with all those numbers in mind, and a 101 DRA- also sees his work as a shade below league-average.
#Brewers are acquiring Gonzalez when he is struggling very badly. Is 1-4 with 7.47 ERA in six games in August. In second half: 1-5, 6.55 ERA in eight games. So, legitimate to ask if he will help.— Tom (@Haudricourt) August 31, 2018
Unfortunately, the Brewers may not be picking him up at the best time. Gonzalez has struggled mightily since the All-Star break, just like basically every hurler that Milwaukee has employed over the last six weeks or so. They’ll be counting on a change of scenery and potentially some coaching from Derek Johnson will help Gio round in to form during the September pennant chase with Milwaukee.
Gonzalez last started for Washington on the 29th, so his next normally scheduled start would come on Monday assuming a typical every-five-days routine. Zach Davies is currently the listed starter for that day in his return from the DL, with Junior Guerra lined up on the day before on Sunday. We’ll see if that gets shuffled once the Gonzalez deal is finalized, though it’s worth noting that Chase Anderson (5.61 ERA), Freddy Peralta (5.81 ERA), and Guerra (7.03 ERA) all struggled mightily during the month of August.
The Brewers have yet to formally announce the deal, and the players heading back to Washington have not yet been reported.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
We now have reports of which prospects may be heading back to Washington, originating from someone you might recognize:
FWIW - KJ Harrison and Gilbert Lara were in tonight's original lineup for Wisconsin, but both were late scratches.— Kyle Lobner (@BrewFrostyMug) September 1, 2018
KJ Harrison, a catcher, and Gilbert Lara, an infielder, were late scratches from minors game tonight, and are believed to be going to nats in the agreed-upon Gio trade with brewers. Kyle lobner mentioned the lineup change 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 1, 2018
KJ Harrison, who just turned 22, was Milwaukee’s third-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. He’s done some catching as a professional but played mostly first base and DH for the Class-A Timber Rattlers this season. In 466 plate appearances, he batted .228/.298/.384 with 12 home runs but a whopping 147 strikeouts. He was ranked as Milwaukee’s #29 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Gilbert Lara signed for more than $3 mil as an international free agent in 2014, the largest bonus in club history and before the new hard caps were put in place. Five years later, Lara has yet to advance past A-ball. He has yet to turn 21 so one could argue that youth is on his side, and he’s putting together his finest statistical season yet while splitting time between shortstop and third base. It’s a low bar though; he’s batted .249/.281/.353 in 115 games with 5 homers and 26 doubles. Lara was unranked among Brewers prospects.
The trade is now official, with Milwaukee sending Lara and Harrison to the Nats in exchange for Gio and international slot money. The Brewers will cover all of Gio’s contract according to Bob Nightengale.