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Trade Analysis: Another stable bat in Mark Canha is another upgrade for Brewers

Matt Arnold continues to replace futility with competency in the lineup

San Francisco Giants v New York Mets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The Brewers acquired their second bat in five days via trade on Monday, adding veteran outfielder Mark Canha from the New York Mets in exchange for pitching prospect Justin Jarvis.

From an offensive perspective, the trade for Canha follows the same mold as the club’s acquisition of Carlos Santana last week. The Brewers are in dire need of competent bats, and a respectable but unspectacular hitter represents an upgrade at most positions in the lineup.

Canha owns a career .248/.348/.422 line, good for a 117 wRC+. He hit for a 128 wRC+ as recently as last season, but at age 34, his best production is likely behind him. Still, the veteran is in the midst of a decent offensive season, slashing .245/.343/.381 (107 wRC+).

Canha doesn’t bring much firepower to the lineup. Outside of a 26-homer showing during the juiced ball summer of 2019, he has never been much of a power threat. While his ceiling is limited, the excellent feel Canha has developed for the strike zone throughout his nine-year career helps him reach base consistently and gives him a high floor.

Since the start of 2019, Canha has walked at an 11.8% clip, including 10.8% this year. His strikeout rate is currently a career-best 17.2%. Canha’s walk, strikeout, and chase rates closely resemble Santana’s.

Such a profile shores up right field, where Canha figures to see most of his playing time. Brewers right fielders have combined for a 74 wRC+ in 2023, which ranks last in the National League and 28th in baseball. Installing Canha in right allows the Brewers to shift Sal Frelick to center and push Joey Wiemer, who has struggled mightily against right-handed pitching as a rookie, into the short side of a platoon up the middle.

Like Santana, Canha is hardly the most exciting addition for a contending team starved for offense. However, he promises a baseline of competency at the plate, representing a massive boost for a lineup that has been incompetent with the bat at multiple positions. He has experience at all three outfield positions and both corner infield spots, affording Craig Counsell flexibility to make further tweaks to the lineup down the stretch.

Canha is in the final guaranteed year of a two-year deal he signed with the Mets before the 2021 season, but the Brewers could keep him through 2024 by exercising a club option. The club would owe Canha $11.5 million should they pick up the option as opposed to a $2 million buyout, making it likely the Brewers will part ways with him after this season.

The addition of Canha could mark the end of Tyrone Taylor’s time in Milwaukee. Taylor is also a right-handed outfield bat and has slashed just .161/.177/.258 this year while battling a recurring elbow injury. Taylor is out of options, and with other capable center field options on the 40-man roster in Wiemer, Frelick, and Blake Perkins, he appears unlikely to hold down a roster spot past Tuesday’s trade deadline.

To acquire Canha, the Brewers parted with No. 30 prospect Justin Jarvis. A solid showing at Double-A Biloxi earned the 23-year-old a promotion to Triple-A earlier in July, but he remained buried beneath several arms on Milwaukee’s depth chart.

Jarvis was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. With the Brewers unlikely to add him to their 40-man roster, he was a prime candidate to be dealt at the deadline for a big-league addition.

As part of the return for a top-30 prospect, the Mets agreed to cover Canha’s remaining salary for 2023 down to the league minimum.

In acquiring Santana and Canha, Matt Arnold has plugged two holes in the lineup in a responsible fashion, dipping into the organization’s prospect depth without surrendering any of its top minor-league talent. With a few hours remaining before the deadline, Arnold and the Brewers may not be finished yet.