The Brewers are in an interesting position, aren’t they? They are in the middle of a rebuild with a young team and a young manager. No one expected them to contend. The Chicago Cubs were meant to run away with the National League Central Division; the rest of the division was barely supposed to stay afloat.
Well, baseball is weird. The Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals are all within 4.5 games of each other in the division and are all in striking distance in the NL Wild Card race. The division and wild card race is all up for grabs, and the Brewers should accelerate their rebuilding process and make a major move at the trade deadline.
No one expected the Brewers to be where they are right now. Eric Thames is on pace to hit 30 home runs after spending the past few seasons playing in Korea. Travis Shaw has outperformed all expectations after being traded to Milwaukee from the Red Sox with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs. The offense has been explosive, but no one would have thought it would have been this good without much production from franchise cornerstone Ryan Braun. The pitching has been outstanding, especially the bullpen.
I believe there is a way to make this franchise’s window of contention expand without depleting the entire farm system they have worked so hard to rebuild as a part of this process. The front office needs to reward the men in the clubhouse by investing in this season, while investing in their future. With that, here are my three key targets that the Brewers should trade for that can help not only this year, but for the next few seasons moving forward:
Sonny Gray: Oakland Athletics
I know I know, this has been the main one kicked around right now so for you Brewer fans, this is nothing new. Right now, Gray is the top name on the starting pitching trade block in what has been a lackluster summer in pitching targets. While he has had a history of injury problems, he has rebuilt his trade value with a great string of starts of late. This season in 15 starts, Gray has a 6-4 record with a 3.66 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 91 innings of work.
For me, this deal is very reminiscent of when the Brewers acquired Zack Greinke from the Royals. Greinke had two years of contractual control when he was acquired and allowed the Brewers to contend for several seasons. It also allowed the Brewers to trade him and recuperate some of prospects they gave up by trading him to the Angels. Gray is under team control through 2019. They Brewers would have him for several seasons to compete right now and would also have the option to trade him in the future. The team is in need of a true #1 ace and Sonny Gray is the best fit for the team.
Carlos Gomez: Texas Rangers
This summer has not been a great market for outfielders, which means it’s advantage Brewers. The team has a major hole in center field and while there aren’t many options that stand out, Carlos Gomez is a logical fit for the team. The one time Brewers’ outfielder has hit .248 with 12 home runs this season while playing average defense in center. While he is a bit of a hot head at times, the Brewers know Gomez and understand what they are getting into. He is only a rental player and would cost a minimal amount of prospects and around $5 million in salary for the second half. The Brewers’ ownership has already expressed publicly that they would do whatever it takes financially to improve the club. This kind of a move can help them in the short term without having any real impact on the future of the organization after this season.
Ian Kinsler: Detroit Tigers
With the lack of production from second base this season, it would be wise to add some help. While the market is not great for middle, Ian Kinsler could be a decent option for the Brewers moving forward. 2017 has not been extremely kind to Kinsler. So far, he has hit a subpar .247 with 9 home runs and 28 RBIs. What is unique for the Brewers is that he gives them flexibility. He could be a guy they could use at third to spell Travis Shaw, as well as playing in his natural position at second. He has a club option for $10 million with a $5 million buyout. He allows the Brewers to either have the 35 year old for a half a season or for the 2018 campaign as well. Because of his poor first half, the Brewers could acquire him on the cheap and possibly flip him next year for a bigger return if things don’t pan out.
Here is the key. The front office needs to reward the play of the guys in the locker room. If they want this rebuild to move forward, they need the full commitment of the locker room and coaching staff to the front office and vice versa. I think that any one of these moves can help the Brewers become playoff contenders and not compromise the future of their organization by depleting the farm system. Baseball is weird. Rebuilds happen faster or slower than expected. It’s the Brewers’ time. Make it happen.