Tell me if you’ve heard this one already: The Brewers register in this week’s Power Rankings at the No. 24 spot. That’s exactly the case this week, as ESPN has the Crew slated in that position again. Here are our comments to our friends over at ESPN. As you can imagine, due to the fact that this is the last Power Rankings piece prior to July 31, the trade deadline will be our main focus of the column:
Milwaukee is expected to be one of baseball’s biggest sellers in the next week. There is interest in multiple Brewers, starting with All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Carlos Torres. It’s not a matter of whether players will be traded but rather when and who. — Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3),Disciples of Uecker
Yes. It is finally that time. We’ve reached the point that was circled on our calendars at the beginning of the season — perhaps even earlier than that. It’s safe to say that Brewers fans have been anticipating this trade deadline last year on August 1, when they saw the talent received for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Once again, the Brewers have plenty to offer to contending teams — maybe even more so than last year. From a bat in the lineup to late-inning relief in the bullpen, Milwaukee has the missing variables for numerous teams salivating a late-October run.
Let’s begin with the white elephant in the room, shall we? Jonathan Lucroy is clearly the No. 1 target the Brewers have to entice teams with. There’s no doubt about it — the All-Star catcher has proven that last year was a fluke thanks to injuries and has put forth a .301/.362/.491 slash combined with an OPS of .853, 13 HR and 50 RBI. There’s no doubt David Stearns has fielded multiple offers on Lucroy, ranging from the Indians, Mets and Rangers. According to Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, New York offered catcher Travis d’Arnaud straight up for Luc. The Brewers obviously felt that wasn’t a fair deal, and rightfully so. If the Crew were to trade their tenured All-Star catcher to the Mets, Stearns better begin all negotiations demanding Dom Smith. The slugging first baseman has resembled the hot July days with his bat this month, hitting a .377/.443/.652 since the 1st. Partner that exceptional slash with his 12 dingers and 70 RBI, Smith would be a perfect piece to the puzzle for a Lucroy deal. You can bet that Stearns will want at least another prospect or two in return, which is definitely understandable considering the steep price the Cubs paid for Aroldis Chapman.
It’s been said that the Mets are also interested in adding more arms to the bullpen — something the Brewers definitely can provide with the combo of Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress. It’s hard to envision Jeffress packing his bags for the Big Apple, as the Mets already have one of the best closers in the game in Jeurys Familia. However, Terry Collins & Co. may feel as if Jeffress could take up a different role and still contribute success. If I were to bet money on anything, I’d expect Will Smith to go to a National League contender — maybe the Mets, maybe not. The reason I say that is because left-handed pitching will be crucial in the playoffs. Teams are searching for the recipes that can diffuse the Brandon Belts, Anthony Rizzos, Brandon Crawfords, Bryce Harpers, etc. Dangerous hitters from the left side of the plate such as those listed are reasons why Smith should bring back a high return for Milwaukee.
Moving onto other tradable assets, Chris Carter should establish himself to be a hot commodity in the coming days. While the heavy-swinger has been struggling in the month of July (hitting an ice-cold .167 with only 10 hits), he still can fetch an above average price. A slump has taken over his game and while that’s frustrating, that shouldn’t hold back the likelihood of him being moved. Perhaps his value from May can be resurrected by strapping on one of the relievers Milwaukee possesses to the deal, as a variety of combinations exist. Power bats are always appreciated come this time of year, and Carter should be no different.
A player fans feel split on in terms of whether or not to trade is Junior Guerra. The Brewers have reportedly been receiving interest from teams regarding the 31-year-old. I understand both sides of the argument, but I tend to lean towards trading Guerra if possible and here’s why. Take into consideration the path Junior has taken to get to where he currently is and realize what he’s accomplished while up in the big leagues with Milwaukee. He’s raised his value to perhaps as high as it can possibly go — not too many 31-year-olds can do that. When all those different components are processed together, the Brewers could seemingly receive more value for him now than if they were to wait until the offseason. Teams won’t want to gamble an entire year on Guerra producing at the rate he is, which is what they’d have to do if he was obtained at Winter Meetings. Many GM’s will consider his age to be too much of a risk if that were the case. By trading for him now, a team will likely have more confidence in Guerra pitching the type of ball he currently is, using that talent to help them win games down the stretch and not risking it diminishing in the offseason. Will the Brewers trade him? I have no clue. If Stearns doesn’t feel the return aligns with what Guerra has to offer, no deal will likely be made. However, don’t think of Guerra as untouchable.
The last player we’ll touch on is the one (other than Lucroy) who made an appearance in the Power Rankings comments. Carlos Torres has quietly been piecing together a stellar year out of the bullpen. Originally signed back on April 2, the 33-year-old has let his performances transcend into the possibility of the Brewers adding more talent to the farm system. In a few ways, 2016 can be deemed a career-year for the right-hander. His 2.96 ERA registers as a career low, along with his SO/9, which sits at 9.1. Those numbers scream durability and consistency, which translates into reasoning as to why one can expect Torres to be donning a different uniform come August 1. He’s also heating up at the right time — his 1.04 ERA in the month of July constitutes as his lowest average throughout the year. As we all know, things get much more interesting when the stock of a player is rising and that’s the case with Torres.
It’s going to be a fun ride, folks. The trade deadline is arguably the most exciting time for a team in the midst of a rebuild (along with the Draft). Fans should be excited about it. If you’re going to be somebody who will become devastated to see Lucroy and his beard help chase down a ring in another city, take the old Dr. Seuss quote and apply it to your emotions — “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I’m sure when you look at the return Milwaukee receives for him and others, you’ll quickly wonder why you even let tears roll down your face.
So, as a final reminder, please keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Make sure to place your hands on the restraint bar in front of you. We hope you enjoy Mr. Stearns’ Wild Ride!