The Milwaukee Brewers are in the throes of a playoff race, one game off the division lead in the NL Central and tied for the league’s top Wild Card spot. The team needs to add some pitching to the fold before the single July 31st trade deadline, but David Stearns and company may have some difficulty finding a deal for an impactful arm based on the fact that the organization’s minor league system was recently ranked last in the game by Baseball America. Realizing that, the front office brain trust has reportedly considered an outside-the-box solution to finding an upgrade for their beleaguered staff.
From Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
The Brewers, arguably the most creative team at last year’s deadline, have kicked around the idea of bolstering their injury-depleted rotation by trading one of their potential free agents, catcher Yasmani Grandal or infielder Mike Moustakas. It’s unclear whether the concept has advanced beyond internal discussions...The return of Travis Shaw and emergence of Keston Hiura would make Moustakas perhaps easier to replace than Grandal, but the Brewers probably could find a cerebral, defensive-minded catcher.
Moustakas and Grandal both signed one-year deals with mutual options prior to the start of this season, and both made the National League All-Star team after excellent performances during the team’s first half. Moose started the year as the regular second baseman but has since moved back to his natural position at the hot corner with the fall-off of Travis Shaw and the emergence of Keston Hiura. He has hit .261/.333/.532 with 26 home runs in 418 plate appearances, equaling out to a 119 wRC+. Playoff contending teams that have gotten poor production out of their third basemen include the Cardinals, Phillies, Indians, and Rays.
Grandal has played nearly every day as the team’s starting backstop, racking up 391 plate appearances in 98 games. He’s batting .258/.376/.500 with 19 home runs for a 126 wRC+, and he and Manny Pina have combined to become the league’s most valuable catching tandem this year by fWAR (4.5). The Cardinals, A’s, Angels, Astros, and Nationals are postseason hopefuls who have received less-than-stellar production from their catchers.
Trading Moustakas would be making a big bet on the recovery of Travis Shaw, who hit .316/.494/.754 with eight home runs in 77 plate appearances during his recent exile to the minor leagues. But he has been one of MLB’s worst hitters during his time in the big leagues this year, compiling a brutal .160/.273/.283 slash (46 wRC+) in 216 plate appearances. The club also has MLB vets like Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg hanging around in Triple-A to provide additional depth if needed, as well as top prospect Mauricio Dubon.
Rosenthal also adds an additional, unrelated nugget of information regarding our beloved local nine:
The Brewers were in on lefty Derek Holland before the Giants traded him to the Cubs.
The Giants signed Holland to a one-year deal to pitch in their starting rotation prior to the 2019 season, but he performed poorly in seven starts before losing his spot and getting assigned to the bullpen. He posted a 5.90 ERA in 68.2 innings for San Francisco before getting designated for assignment, but with Milwaukee desperate for a healthy arm capable of starting ballgames, it isn’t surprising that they gave him a look. Apparently whatever cash considerations that the Cubs offered were more enticing, and Holland is now serving as a lefty-specialist for them out of the ‘pen.
If there is an avenue for Slingin’ Stearns to pick up some pitching before Wednesday afternoon’s trade deadline, you can bet that the aggressive and creative executive is considering it.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs