The Brewers made their big move of the non-waiver deadline early Thursday afternoon, acquiring outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor leaguers Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda. Parra will join the Brewers before Friday’s game against the Cardinals in St. Louis, replacing Logan Schafer on the active roster and Tyler Thornburg on the 40-man. Thornburg was moved to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room for the move.
Parra mostly provides depth and matchup flexibility for the Brewers, along with outstanding outfield defense in the corners and passable defense in center. Parra hits left handed, an important asset for a team that leans very heavily to the right, and hits significantly better against right-handed pitching than lefties. This gives the team the ability to sit one of their other outfielders, most likely Khris Davis. Davis deals with some significant platoon splits himself when facing a tough right-handed pitcher.
Here are the splits for both Parra and Davis. Pay particular attention to the bolded numbers.
|VS RHP||VS RHP||VS RHP||VS LHP||VS LHP||VS LHP|
If the Brewers do end up taking significant plate appearances away from Khris Davis and giving them to Parra, it’s because they’re buying that Parra is likely to be more like his old self and Davis is going to continue on the path he’s shown this year of really struggling to hit against right-handed pitching. If Parra can find some of that old magic against righties, he could prove to be a fairly significant upgrade over Davis in terms of batting average and on base percent.
This doesn’t mean that the Brewers will, or should, sit Davis all together against right-handed pitching. What this does is give the Brewers the option to sit him when they don’t like a particular matchup or are facing a right-handed pitcher with significant platoon splits. The Brewers best hitters are still overwhelmingly right handed, but now the team can at least run out Parra, along with Scooter Gennett and Lyle Overbay when facing those tough sinker/slider-type right handers. It gives them more options on offense, which they desperately needed.
Parra has also been a very good defensive outfielder, capable of playing all three positions, though he really excels in the corners and is more of just “playable” in center. His numbers defensively have slipped some this year in all of the defensive metrics, but outfielders are prone to those sorts of shifts and according to former MLB scout and current prospect writer Bernie Pleskoff:
@RDTopp Very good glove and great arm-yes.
— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) July 31, 2014
On the other side of the deal, the Brewers gave up a legitimate top 10 prospect in their system in outfielder Mitch Haniger and a likely organizational arm in lefty Anthony Banda. Haniger was taken with the 38th pick of the 2012 draft, which was one of the two picks the Brewers received for losing Prince Fielder to the Tigers. He steadily progressed towards the majors over the last two years, though his numbers have dipped some on the way up. There is little doubt that he’s a future major leaguer, but some scouts have labeled him more of a fourth outfielder than a true everyday starter.
There is a chance this comes back to bite the Brewers some in the long term, though they will get the option to bring Parra back for his third season of arbitration for something around five million dollars next year if they so choose. If Haniger’s power improves significantly or Banda proves to be something more than he appears to be at the moment, maybe the Diamondbacks “win” this trade in the long run. That clearly wasn’t a concern for the Brewers today, though, faced with the opportunity to upgrade their roster in the midst of a real run at the postseason.
This may not have been the kind of blockbuster that grabs attention, but it does fill a real need for the Brewers and improves their ability to play matchups on a day to day basis. It also upgrades the bench, perhaps the team’s biggest need headed into the deadline. Finally, just because the deadline has passed doesn’t mean the Brewers can’t continue to seek upgrades over the next month. They’ll just have to look for players that can clear waivers from here on out. All in all, not a bad deadline day for the Brewers.