As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Milwaukee Brewers: 38-49, 4th in the NL Central
It’s been a tough first half for the Brewers, a young team competing in a division with three playoff contenders who are currently sitting above the .500 mark. A year after trading veterans Aramis Ramirez, Mike Fiers, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Broxton and Gerardo Parra at the trade deadline, Milwaukee is likely preparing for another active summer.
More significant moves came for the Brewers this winter, as Francisco Rodriguez, Adam Lind, Jean Segura and Khris Davis were sent out of town. With that much turnover, the current roster seems to be overperforming, partly due to the the solid performances of veteran leaders Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy as well as surprise contributions from righty Junior Guerra and infielder Jonathan Villar.
What moves have they made so far?
Milwaukee struck early on the trade market, making the first significant trade of July by shipping infielder Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for right-hander Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo late last week.
Hill, 34, is just the kind of player the Brewers were looking to trade this summer, and they received a pretty good return for him. MLB.com already ranks Rijo as the 20th-best prospect in a deep Milwaukee system, while Wilkerson has emerged as a solid starter at Triple-A so far this season and could see some time in the majors if the Brewers make rotation trades.
Are they buyers or sellers?
The Brewers are sellers, and sources have indicated that everyone on the team’s roster can be had for the right price. That doesn’t mean that the team is likely to trade its top controllable players, though everything appears to be on the table at this point.
The two main trade chips for the Brew Crew are Braun and Lucroy, the veteran leaders of the team who are drawing strong interest throughout the league. Braun appears to be available atop a strong trade market for outfielders, and Lucroy is, by far, the best available catcher this summer.
Milwaukee has previously stated a public interest in extending Lucroy, but he told me Monday in San Diego that no talks had taken place.
Some of the Brewers’ other chips include relievers Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith and Carlos Torres, as well as starter Matt Garza and first baseman Chris Carter. It is unlikely that the team will trade Villar, though Guerra may be available in a weak market for starting pitching.
What moves could they make?
The team’s available players are already drawing their fair share of trade interest, especially with the Hill move signaling that the Brewers are ready to make deals.
Braun, an All-Star snub who is under team control through the 2021 season, has already been linked to contenders like the Giants and Red Sox and would be an upgrade for virtually every team. His long contract means that he would still be a Brewer in the contending stage of the club’s rebuild, so the team may end up keeping him as the face of the franchise.
Lucroy, on the other hand, is only controlled through next season due to an extremely reasonable $5.25 million team option. He has drawn interest from multiple teams, with a recent report noting that the Rangers were “plotting to acquire him.” Lucroy has already been linked to the Nationals, Astros, Red Sox and White Sox in rumors, and appears to be a likely candidate to be dealt by the end of the month. The Rays and Cubs have had interest as well, though they reportedly appear unlikely to acquire Lucroy.
Jeffress and Smith are drawing strong interest throughout the league, but would likely require strong hauls for the Brewers to move them. According to a league source, the Brewers and Marlins went deep into discussions about a deal that would have sent Jeffress to Miami before the Marlins decided to instead acquire Fernando Rodney in a trade with the Padres. Peter Gammons of MLB Network recently reported that the Brewers asked for Chris Paddack, the prospect sent to San Diego for Rodney, plus two other prospects in a deal involving Jeffress.
Torres and Carter have had semi-productive seasons and could net the Brewers a young piece after both signing as unheralded free agents over the winter. The team would likely love to move Garza, who could actually garner interest in a very weak market. Outside of Garza, the team’s starters appear unlikely to be dealt.
The Brewers will be creative in their selling this summer, and will likely unload all of their veterans who are on short-term deals (Lucroy, Carter and Torres, for example). They will definitely explore the idea of dealing Braun, Jeffress and Smith, but appear to have high asking prices on all three of them with less than three weeks left before the deadline.
Milwaukee’s reported asking price for Jeffress (Paddack and two other prospects from Miami) is a high one, though Jeffress is under control through 2019 and has been a valuable Brewer since signing with the club in April 2014. Milwaukee can set its own market with its controllable pieces, potentially holding onto them until the winter, when every team believes it is a contender and buyers emerge out of nowhere.