In the midst of yet another chance at making the MLB playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers have made themselves known to their fellow National League Central counterparts with a hot start to the month of June. With the Trade Deadline fast approaching, they are hitting their stride just when determining if you are a contender or a pretender needs to happen.
Even with outfielder and 2018 Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich in the midst of a struggling season, the Brew Crew enters into the second weekend of June a half-game back of first, trailing the Chicago Cubs. Looking like a three-horse race between the Cubs, Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee needs to continue their winning ways, something that would be aided by some outside help.
Their pitching has gotten them to this point of the season, as their three-headed monster in the starting rotation (Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta) has thrown everything and the kitchen sink at opposing hitters, befuddling them and getting them continuously to pop up as regular video features on the Pitching Ninja Twitter page, belonging to ESPN contributor Rob Friedman.
Their bullpen, which recently lost two pieces in the Willy Adames trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, has been a stellar element of their squad too, relying on the one-two punch of Devin Williams and closer Josh Hader to shut down games and earn the win. But even they could use some help – see which three trades the Brewers should make before this year’s Trade Deadline comes and goes.
As a member of one of the worst teams currently in the NL, the Arizona Diamondbacks will likely be looking to move some of their higher-priced veteran pieces to help accelerate their rebuild – something that Eduardo Escobar fits perfectly into.
As a utility infielder, Escobar would help bring nice defensive versatility to the Brewers, something that they are in desperate need of, seeing as how their starting third baseman Travis Shaw just suffered a dislocated shoulder and is going to miss an undisclosed amount of time. Combine that with the fact that second baseman Kolten Wong has missed time with a hamstring injury twice so far this year, and you get a need for someone who can man multiple defensive roles.
Escobar is currently in the final year of his three-year, $21 million deal signed with Arizona back in 2019 – having entered the season with a $7.5 million salary, the remaining amount certainly would be far less with how much of the season has already gone on, helping out a small-market team like the Brewers on their payroll.
Having just recently turned 32 years old, Escobar’s 2021 season has provided a power surge of sorts, blasting 14 home runs and knocking in 41 runs across 61 games. Having spent time at second, short, and third base, he still has his defensive flexibility to offer, something the Brewers would be smart to target heading towards the playoffs.
The Minnesota Twins are bad this year – really bad. Having completely regressed from last season, the Twins will soon be entering into sell mode, something that could even make starting pitcher Jose Berrios available for the taking.
While adding to the rotation behind the three top guys is not necessarily a priority, it would certainly alleviate the need to go out and get a bullpen guy, which could command a pretty penny. With Berrios only having one season left of arbitration eligibility after this year, the Twins may realize they cannot afford to extend him and would prefer to get something for him now from a team heading to the playoffs.
He is the uncommon non-rental that could be on the move this season, which would obviously drive his trade value up exponentially – needing to dig into an already-decrepit prospect pipeline certainly would hurt MIL, but going for the postseason is exactly what they need to focus on instead. Shortstop Brice Turang and starters Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby could all be options to be included in a package for Berrios, who is only 27 years of age.
Producing a 6-2 record with a 3.58 ERA across 12 games is quite remarkable for Berrios, especially when considering how poorly MIN has played this year. Having been a perfect example of a healthy player for his entire career, Berrios would be a solid get that would again show how forward-thinking President of Baseball Operations David Stearns operates this team.
The prized possession of this year’s likely trade deadline class is shortstop Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies – in the final year of his deal, the star option is going to be coveted by many teams looking towards the playoffs, many of which have far better farm systems than what the Brewers bring to the table.
But understanding the huge whole that the Brewers currently have at shortstop may force the hand of Stearns. His operating procedure typically does not include going after big-time players and offering up major prospects to do so, but this may be one of those situations that make him stray from what he typically does.
Landing Story going into his free agency year would very much resemble the kind of decision former GM Doug Melvin made back when they acquired pitcher C.C. Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians. Helping propel this team to the playoffs, Sabathia essentially took this team on his back and did whatever he possibly could to make sure Milwaukee was playing in October.
Any kind of impact that Story would make on this team would be a welcomed one, especially for the offense of the Brewers which has struggled to produce runs and provide run support for their starting rotation. Entering into a bidding war to secure Story for what would likely just be a half-season’s worth of time is something Stearns should already be looking into, especially with the growing list of potential suitors that would like to acquire Story for themselves.