The Brewers lost again on Tuesday, 4-2 to the Reds. No shame in losing to Johnny Cueto, really, but it’s just hard to get excited about much of anything about the team right now. It’s only natural to start thinking towards the future, and the most interesting thing in this team’s near-term future is a potential roster reconstruction. So even though it stems from less than ideal circumstances, this tweet from Jon Heyman was still a welcome sight:
there’s belief brewers could sell soon if things don’t turn. lohse/garza could be in play. one gm: “they have good players”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 28, 2015
It may seem crazy early to talk rebuild in April, but when a team starts off as a fringe contender in a tough division, gets hit with injuries early, and starts 4-17, it’s at least worth discussing. Since one of the most important questions facing any team in a rebuild is deciding who goes and who stays, let’s take a look at all the potential players who could move on the major league roster. They’ve been grouped in instances where the outlook is particularly similar. Each player has also been given two 1-5 rankings, one for what type of return could be expected for that player and another for how likely they are to move before the end of the trading season this year.
Juan Centano, Hector Gomez, Elian Herrera, Luis Jimenez, Jason Rogers, and Logan Schafer
These guys are all still a long ways from being eligible for even arbitration and none has distinguished themselves in a way that “selling high” really comes into play. If someone wants one of them to balance out a trade or to fill out their own bench, that’s probably fine, but they’re more likely for outright release than being integral parts of a trade at this point.
Chance of moving: 1
Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett
Davis and Gennett aren’t eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, and aren’t even eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season. While they have established themselves to a certain degree at the big league level, both also still have pretty severe lingering platoon split issues and don’t figure to be the sorts of players that teams would move mountains to get. Perhaps if the right situation came along and they became part of a larger deal, they could end up being moved this year, but none of that is particularly likely.
Chance of moving: 1
Segura may be the most interesting piece to watch strictly from a “trying to determine the long-term vision” perspective if the team does truly decide to rebuild this summer. On the surface, he’s not that much different than the last two, just one year ahead on the arby and free agent calendar and coming off a very disappointing 2014 campaign, especially at the plate. However, Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal just reported over the weekend that the Brewers are “constantly” getting calls on his availability. It’s a good reminder that his combination of position, above average defense, a bat with upside that has shown through at times at the MLB level and three-plus years of control is quite the attractive package. They certainly shouldn’t be looking to move him at all costs, but with Luis Sardinas and his outstanding glove at AAA and top prospect Orlando Arcia off to a roaring start in AA, if someone comes strong with a great offer they should at least consider pulling the trigger.
Chance of moving: 2
If they do rebuild, everyone is going to be looking for Braun to be traded in the exodus. Talk radio will beat the topic to death and there will surely be hot takes aplenty to be had on these here internets. Unfortunately, with the combination of the approximately 105 million still owed to him at this point, his notable decline in play, and his status as one of the least popular players in MLB, the return is going to be minimal to nothing. If the Brewers were to offer him up to other teams for nothing but his contract at this point, would anyone even be brave enough to take on all the baggage associated with him, let alone to give up anything of value? He’s probably a “hold” for the foreseeable future.
Chance of moving: 1.5
If the Brewers do embark on any sort of significant rebuild this year, the question of what to do with Jonathan Lucroy is going to become one of the more hotly debated topics among dedicated fans of the team, and for good reason. Due to his bargain contract, his outstanding pitch framing and above average bat, he is the single most valuable trade asset the team possesses. He’s also now under three years from free agency after 2017 and will command a very substantial long-term contract starting with his age 32 season. If he goes, it’s a crystal clear indication that the team has no immediate plans to contend in the near future and will be greeted in some quarters with everything from disappointment to the derisive cry of “same old Brewers.” Do Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin have the stomach to deal with that? Only time will tell, but it’s hard not to be pretty skeptical.
Chance of moving: 2
Lind is a good hitter, as Brewers fans have already seen, but his status as a defensive and health liability makes the 31-year old a definite candidate to go. He does have a reasonably inexpensive option (8 million) for 2016 that the buying team would be entitled to, which adds at least a little to his value assuming he’s actually healthy at the time they would look to move him. For the right American League team in search of left-handed power hitting and 1B/DH help, he could be the sort of under-the-radar pickup that pushes a team over the top.
Chance of moving: 4
Carlos Gomez may not have come up with the Brewers, but sometimes it feels like he did because fans had to suffer through a few years of mediocre play before the breakout into true star status happened. It’s going to be hard to see him go, but he’s due for free agency after the 2016 season and the team has top five-ish prospects Tyrone Taylor (AA) and Monte Harrison (A) waiting in the wings. It’s hard to imagine him on the opening day roster next year, so a trade either this summer or in the offseason feels like almost a foregone conclusion.
Chance of moving 4
On the surface, Ramirez appears to be maybe the most likely player to be traded from the Brewers this summer, barring some miracle run back into contention. He’ll be 37 in June, has already said this is likely his final season in baseball and doesn’t have a no-trade clause that would allow him to nix a deal. Still, he’ll need to hit and stay healthy enough for the Brewers to get much of anything back of consequence and it’s not without precedent for this owner and general manager to hold onto a pending free agent even without hope of winning. He’s probably gone, but it’s not quite a sure thing and the return is going to be heavily dependent on how (and if) he’s playing.
Chance of moving: 4
Out of everyone on the team, Parra might be the single most likely player to get moved this season. He has a reasonable 1-year contract (6.237 million), offers a solid left-handed bat and a versatile outfield profile that allows him to play all three positions. Trading him also doesn’t raise long term questions; it really just makes sense for a non-contending team to move players in his situation. The return won’t be remarkable. He was traded for just Mitch Haniger last summer, but the team should be able to extract at least some value from him and sometimes lottery tickets do hit. It’s been fun having him on the team, but the days are almost certainly numbered.
Chance of moving: 5