The Brewers entered deadline day with the fourth-worst record in the Major Leagues, the fourth-worst run differential in the National League, 12.5 games behind Cincinnati for the second wildcard. They’re in last place in the NL Central, 18.5 games behind St. Louis. If there’s a profile for a team that should be selling at the deadline, this is it.
The Brewers didn’t make any trades on deadline day.
Granted, some of that is due to bad injury luck. Aramis Ramirez’s knee has kept him on the disabled list longer than expected, and Yovani Gallardo strained his left hamstring in yesterday’s doubleheader against the Cubs. While it seemed unlikely either would be traded even before their injuries, the timing didn’t help the Brewers cook up any trade opportunities, either.
But even without Ramirez and Gallardo available, it wasn’t like the Brewers were lacking in trade pieces. Kyle Lohse could have been attractive to a contender, considering names like Ian Kennedy and Bud Norris — solid yet completely average starting pitchers — were dominating the rumor mill. There’s also a slew of pitchers in the bullpen that could have been attractive, from a LOOGY like Michael Gonzalez to potential closers like John Axford or Jim Henderson. Last-place teams have little incentive to hang onto relievers, especially ones not in long-term plans (or in Axford’s case, in danger of being non-tendered in the offseason).
Of course, there’s still the month of August for deals to be made through the waiver wire. Bullpen pieces like Gonzalez shouldn’t have much problem sneaking through waivers, and players like Ramirez with large amounts of money owed for next season may be able to get through, as well. The return in an August deal isn’t likely to be great, but if someone isn’t going to be around next season, it would make sense to get something to hang onto and hope it turns into a lottery ticket.
It’s easy to be upset at Doug Melvin’s perceived lack of action this deadline season, but it was a quiet deadline overall, not just for the Brewers, and it takes two sides to strike a deal. Making a trade just for the sake of making a trade at the deadline is dangerous when you’re a contender, but it can be just as dangerous when you’re a seller. If you have players like Lohse, Gallardo and Ramirez under contract for next season, it doesn’t make much sense to deal them for 75 cents on the dollar to a limited number of contenders in July when you have a better chance at a fair deal in the offseason.
As of now, at least the Brewers have Nicky Delmonico to show for a couple months of Francisco Rodriguez. He’s ranked fifth in our midseason prospect rankings. If that’s the only significant move the Brewers end up making, that’s still a fairly solid prospect added to the system this year.