3) Starting Pitching
Before Wade Miley recently headed to the 15-day IL with elbow discomfort, the Brewers were operating on a six-man rotation. Furthermore, Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Ashby are expected to make their returns sooner rather than later, and Eric Lauer is still kicking around on the 40-man roster .
Assuming that Milwaukee had everyone to work with, pretty much all of their starters would be useful as middle or end-of-the-rotation guys, at the very least. There are plenty of teams who are in desperate need of more solid pitching pieces and have some position players to spare. A good example would be the Cincinnati Reds, who currently have an ERA of 5.58 for their starting pitchers--28th in MLB.
The Reds have the opposite problem: a surfeit of great players at positions where the Brewers need help, namely Spencer Steer at first base and Will Benson in the outfield. While it may be odd for the two top contenders in the NL Central to trade some of their most valuable players with each other, perhaps it can be a win-win scenario where all boats rise with the tide.
An alternative option could be a trade for Ryan Noda, the first baseman for the Oakland Athletics. Oakland has a similar issue, posting an abysmal 6.29 team ERA for starters, while Noda has posted excellent stats in his rookie season, slashing .225/.374/.402. Furthermore, Oakland fans are well aware that the Athletics’ front office is more than willing to trade their best position players year after year for minor-league prospects or other cheap, long-term pieces.
The Brewers have both great skill and optionality in the outfield, with players such as Christian Yelich, Joey Wiemer, Blake Perkins, and even Owen Miller performing well. Furthermore, the team’s top two prospects, Jackson Chourio and Sal Frelick, are standout outfielders at Double A and Triple A, respectively. Even fifth-ranked prospect Tyler Black has been known to dabble in the outfield at times.
Perkins might fetch a good price, as his defense-focused playing style would add value for many teams lacking such a skillset (looking at you, Phillies), and his lack of offense can be upgraded to add a much-needed bat to the Brewers lineup.
While there is depth in the farm system, none of the prospects are quite fully baked. Past the top five, most of the other prospects are in the lower levels of the minors (High-A and below) and Frelick, the lone man in Nashville, has been slashing just .229/.319/.300, signaling a need for more time before heading to The Show.
The Brewers have had a great bullpen all year--one of the best in baseball. A 3.90 ERA for all relievers is actually skewed by a few pitchers who have already been removed from the major-league roster for their poor performances, including Matt Bush and Javy Guerra. The five qualified relievers have ERA+ figures of 149 or better, with Elvis Peguero having the highest ERA at 2.92.
Even with injuries and poor performances affecting the bullpen, there seems to be an unending supply of strong arms to fill in the gaps. While the front office is unlikely to surrender any core pieces, some of the newer faces might help teams who struggle with pitching in the later innings.
One team that might need the help would be the Chicago White Sox. At 16 games below .500, their playoff hopes are slim to none and it’s clear their rebuild has not worked, so it might be time to try again. They also have a 4.71 reliever ERA, 26th in MLB. Some pieces that might add some incremental but much-appreciated value would be 1B Andrew Vaughn (.742 OPS, 103 OPS+) or OF Andrew Benintendei (.731 OPS, 103 OPS+).
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