Last week, we took a look at the contenders in the American League and assessed just how they might match up with the players the Brewers have to move. Since then, a few bits of news have come out. General Manager Doug Melvin made another uncharacteristically candid statement about potentially trading away players at the deadline this year, this time specifically talking about moving starters Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse:
“The package from another team has to be something that will wow me. It’s not a slam dunk that I’m going to trade Yovani or Lohse, but you never know. There’s a lot we have to consider about our club right now,” Melvin added. “While I wouldn’t say we’re ‘selling,’ there are players I would move, players we have available that could help other teams.”
That may not scream “players for sale” but it is about as close to that sort of bold statement as Melvin generally gets. While it’s probably not wise to expect the team to move both or even one of them, it does seem pretty clear that Melvin is willing to listen to offers at this point. Considering both players are still under team control for two more years after 2013, Melvin can afford to be at least somewhat picky when fielding offers.
Anyway, let’s get onto looking at the needs of the teams in the National League as it pertains to what the Brewers have to move.
Largest needs: third base, outfield
Possible Brewers players that fit: Aramis Ramirez, Nori Aoki
Baseball America Preseason Farm Rank: 21st
It’s not that the Braves are a perfect team. As Brewers fans saw over the weekend, this clearly isn’t the case. It’s just that their pitching staff doesn’t really need much help, and they’re locked in at most places in the lineup one way or another. I brought up Ramirez only because Chris Johnson has been quite a bit over his head and theoretically, at least, they could gain something there, though at a massive cost. The Braves outfield is currently suffering through a couple of under-performances from Jason Heyward and BJ Upton, and the team could use someone to get on base up top. Would the team really bench one of them to give enough AB’s to Aoki to make a trade worthwhile? Probably not, but it’s at least worth mentioning.
Largest needs: left-handed reliever, back-end starter
Possible Brewers players that fit: Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Marco Estrada
BA Rank: 16th
The Nationals have been a pretty disappointing team in the first half of the season, but they’re still hanging right around .500 and are a couple of good weeks away from being in full on buyer mode. The rotation is pretty good overall, but, if the Brewers made a healthy Marco Estrada available, a reunion here is at least plausible. Gonzalez and Gorzelanny both have recent (successful) history with the Nats, and could fill what appears to be a need for left-handed relief. The team also has had a pretty big hole at second base in the first half, but they’ve brought up top prospect Anthony Rendon and Rickie Weeks doesn’t really fit their need for a left-handed bat anyway.
Largest Needs: bullpen, outfielder, starter
Possible Brewers players that fit: Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Nori Aoki, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 23rd
Frankly, this isn’t a team that should be buying at all, but if they get hot for a while before the break, it’s at least possible that they could end up doing something foolish and buy.
St. Louis Cardinals
Largest Needs: bullpen, outfield
Possible Brewers players that fit: Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Nori Aoki
BA Rank: 1st
Let’s face reality here: the Cardinals are a very good, very nearly complete team. It’s not that they’re perfect, but finding clear upgrades for their roster isn’t that easy. Like most teams, they could perhaps use a little boost in the bullpen, though they have a seemingly endless supply of hard throwing young arms ready to come up at a moment’s notice. Or maybe it just seems that way. They could perhaps use an upgrade in the outfield, specifically finding a guy who can play some center and hit leadoff. The first part isn’t Aoki, but the second part is. I wouldn’t worry, though; it’s hard to imagine Melvin trading anyone of long-term value to the Cardinals without getting some serious value back himself, so the options are pretty limited.
Largest Needs: outfielder, starting pitcher
Possible Brewers players that fit: Nori Aoki, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 8th
Again, trading in the division can be difficult, especially trading pieces that might help the other team over the long term rather than just the short term. So any deal here is pretty unlikely. Still, the Pirates really could use a left-handed, table setting type outfielder who can play right field, and the Brewers undoubtedly have that in Aoki. The Pirates could possibly also use another starting pitcher, perhaps even a front-end type, but making that sort of a deal with the Brewers would surely demand major return.
Largest Needs: Bullpen, outfield
Possible Brewers players that fit: Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny
BA Rank: 14th
This may be the most likely place we could actually see the Brewers trade inside the division, because they need relief help more clearly than either of the other two NL Central contenders and those are often the least consequential sorts of trades. The Brewers could easily deal one of their relievers with little worry that it would come back to haunt them, and the sort of players generally dealt for relievers don’t often cause long-term regret, either.
Largest Needs: third base, outfield, second base, starting and relief pitching
Possible Brewers players that fit: Basically everyone they might trade
BA Rank: 7th
There are lots of possibilities here, though none of the matches are perfect. Both their second and third base production has been bad, but they just made a long-term commitment to Martin Prado at third and Rickie Weeks doesn’t exactly fit in with their “no strikeouts” offensive philosophy. Aoki would make a lot of sense in their outfield, though getting some power is probably a bigger priority for them at this point than an on-base guy. They could use some help in both the rotation and the pen, though the pen seems much more likely than the rotation, where they do have some in-house options they could turn to as well. They could have quite a bit of interest in one of the Brewers’ relievers.
Largest Needs: second base, starting and relief pitching
Possible Brewers players that fit: Rickie Weeks, Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 20th
Like the Diamondbacks, the Rockies are a team that has a lot of needs that potentially match up with the Brewers. They could use upgrades at both second and third base, though they do have top prospect Nolan Arenado at third and probably aren’t all that interested in adding Ramirez and his salary. Their rotation has been much better than anyone could have expected thus far, and it’s hard to see them making a real playoff run without adding at least one plus starter. They also really could use a right-handed relief pitcher or two, and the Brewers certainly have that. Like all the non-Diamondback teams in the division, it’s easy to see the Rockies either in or out of it at the deadline.
San Diego Padres
Largest Needs: Starting and relief pitching
Possible Brewers players that fit: Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 15th
The Padres have been a much better offensive club than anyone could have expected, but, if they’re able to hang in the race, they could really use some pitching upgrades, especially in the rotation. A lot can happen between now and the deadline, and they’ll need to stay in it, but they do have a number of intriguing prospects they could move to get what they’re looking for.
San Francisco Giants
Largest Needs: Outfield/leadoff hitter, starting pitching
Possible Brewers players that fit: Nori Aoki, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 28th
With the Angel Pagan injury leaving a hole at the top of the Giants’ lineup and in the outfield, the Giants really could use Aoki as long as either Gregor Blanco or Andres Torres can play center on an everyday basis. Their most pressing need, if they do get back in it, is definitely the rotation, where the team has had no shortage of disappointments in 2013. They shouldn’t have much trouble putting together a package for Lohse, though Gallardo may be a bit of a stretch for their depleted farm system to land at this point.
Largest Needs: third base, second base, starting or relief pitching
Possible Brewers players that fit: Aramis Ramirez, Rickie Weeks, Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse
BA Rank: 19th
Let’s face it, the only reason that the Dodgers are on this list is because they’ve spent piles and piles of money in the last calender year and are less likely than perhaps any team to do the right thing right now. Basically, the Brewers are hoping the Dodgers get on a little run and then overreact to it and do something profoundly stupid. They could potentially want a number of Brewers players if they do find themselves in it and they do have some interesting trade pieces to move.