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Brewers trade Mark Canha to Tigers for pitching prospect Blake Holub

The Brewers shipped out Canha before having to decide on his team option for 2024

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game Two Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Brewers have traded outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitching prospect Blake Holub, the clubs announced on Saturday.

Canha has a club option for the 2024 season with an $11.5 million salary and a $2 million buyout. By trading him now, the Brewers handed off the financial commitment of either choice. The Tigers will pick up Canha’s option.

The Brewers acquired the veteran from the New York Mets at the trade deadline, and he proved to be one of baseball’s best midseason acquisitions.

In 50 games with the Brewers, Canha slashed .287/.373/.427, good for a 120 wRC+. He provided characteristically strong plate discipline while adding five home runs in that stretch.

Canha was also at the center of some key moments late in the season, including a go-ahead grand slam against the Washington Nationals on September 16.

Despite his productive two months as a Brewer, it was far from certain that the club would retain his services in 2024.

Canha turns 35 next year and has shown some preliminary signs of decline. His walk rate remains solid but has dropped a few ticks from his prime seasons. His barrel rate and expected wOBA on contact (xwOBAcon) have decreased dramatically over the past couple of seasons, indicating that he’s no longer driving the ball nearly as well as he did in his heyday.

Canha’s run with the Brewers could prove to be his most productive stretch of baseball for the remainder of his career, so it’s not too surprising that the Brewers cashed him in for controllable talent instead of picking up his option and guaranteeing him a spot on next year’s team.

Holub was a 15th-round pick of the Tigers in the 2021 June Amateur Draft. The 24-year-old began the 2023 season with the organization’s High-A affiliate and advanced to Double-A in June.

Between the two levels, Holub compiled a 3.03 ERA and 3.75 FIP in 65 13 innings with a strong 4.47 K/BB ratio. That represented a breakout season for the right-hander, a two-way player out of college who struggled with his control in his first season of pro ball.

Holub features a cutting fastball that sits around 95 mph and can touch 97. He also throws a slider and changeup.

Holub could start 2024 in Triple-A Nashville and work his way up to the big leagues quickly. Because he was not on the 40-man roster in Detroit, the Brewers will not have to add him until he either reaches the majors or becomes eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter.