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MLB trade rumors: Brewers targeting Giants’ Will Smith

Could Milwaukee be headed for a reunion with the top reliever on the trade market?

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants Photo by Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers have interest in re-acquiring Giants All-Star closer Will Smith, and the two teams have been scouting one another, per a report Monday morning from The Athletic’s Robert Murray.

The 30-year-old Smith pitched for the Brewers from 2014-16, and ironically he was moved to the Giants at the deadline as San Francisco tried to patch up a leaking bullpen in advance of a playoff run in 2016. (For what it’s worth, he brought back pitching prospect Phil Bickford, who is 24 and has a 7.59 ERA over eight relief appearances in A-ball this year, and catcher Andrew Susac, who appeared in just 17 games for Milwaukee before being DFA’d.)

With Milwaukee having ridden its bullpen (along with a deep, talented lineup) to an NLCS appearance in 2018, it was expeccted that its relief corps would once again be dominant this season. Instead, the bullpen has posted a collective 4.61 ERA and has been more of a negative than a positive this year, and if it weren’t for surprising standout performances by starters Zach Davies and Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers might be out of the race already. The addition of Smith would provide some much-needed depth to the back end of Milwaukee’s bullpen. And by pairing Smith (2.17 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 54 strikeouts, and eight walks over 37.1 innings) with Josh Hader (2.40 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 82 strikeouts, and 13 walks over 45 frames), the Brewers would very arguably have the two best lefty relievers in baseball.

Murray writes that the Giants have identified infielder Mauricio Dubon “as a player of interest,” though it’s not clear whether they’d want to make him the centerpiece of a Smith deal. It’d seem that the Giants could a better player as a headliner in a Smith deal than Dubon, an undersized 24-year-old who has potential plate discipline issues and a historical lack of power, with a .301/.348/.423 slash line in the minors and no double-digit-homer seasons before hitting 14 in the ultra-hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season.

Ultimately, one would think that there will be teams with both more significant playoff hopes (2.5 games back of the Cubs in a mediocre NL Central, a half game out of the second NL wild-card spot, and just lost a home series to the Giants) and better farm systems than the Brewers (two prospects in MLB.com’s top 100, one of which is their major-league starting second baseman, Keston Hiura) who will try to target Smith — and that will probably offer up better packages in the end. But until then, it’s an interesting possibility that would likely be fun for a former Brewer like Smith.