As was expected, multiple teams in first place in their respective divisions went all out to make moves ahead of this year’s MLB Trade Deadline. In the case of the Milwaukee Brewers, general manager David Stearns took a conservative route to give his squad an extra boost heading into the stretch run of the season.
Stearns completed three trades before last Tuesday’s deadline. He made a pair of low-risk, high-reward moves with the additions of relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Bush. On the other hand, he shipped off Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres in exchange for four players, including the NL West club’s No. 7 ranked prospect in left-handed pitcher Robert Gasser. With Hader set to be under team control for a mere one more year, Milwaukee opted to pull the trigger on this move to better the organization in the long run.
The Brewers still have a quality shot to go on and clinch the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals later in the year. Nonetheless, they should have pushed to trade for these two players as well.
2 trades that the Brewers should have made
Out of the six teams that led their respective divisions ahead of the trade deadline, the Brewers wound up being the lone team to not acquire a hitter. They should have at the least hauled in Luis Rengifo from the Los Angeles Angels.
The Brewers continue to receive adequate production from second base in the campaign. Brewers manager Craig Counsell has relied on Kolten Wong to be the go-to starter at the position. The veteran second baseman has logged 76 total starts at second base, and he currently boasts a .257 batting average coupled with a .338 OBP.
The Brewers could have upped the production from second base with the acquisition of Rengifo. The versatile infielder has turned it up a notch at the plate as of late, posting a .347 batting average and a .844 OPS in his last 25 games heading into Saturday. He has emerged as a quality contact hitter in the Angels lineup, and much success for him in the past weeks has been due to his ability to turn around his woes when facing fastballs. Overall, he has hit .321 against fastballs this season, which is up from last year’s mark of .204.
In the big picture, Rengifo would have provided versatility to Milwaukee had it acquired him thanks to his experience in also covering third base, shortstop, left field, and right field. And had Stearns brought him in, the Brewers would have then not faced a dilemma over just who will be their regular starter at second base next season, as Rengifo is under team control for three more years, while Wong is set to hit free agency in the offseason.
Stearns added depth to the Brewers bullpen with the acquisitions of Taylor Rogers, Bush, and Rosenthal. But as was exemplified by the Atlanta Braves in their World Series-winning run last season, a team can never carry enough relief pitchers on the roster.
At the least, Stearns should have attempted to bring in Cionel Perez from the Baltimore Orioles.
Perez has been among the standout performers in the Orioles bullpen this season, registering a 1.15 ERA in 39.0 innings pitched. He has so far notched career highs across the board, including in ERA+ (351).
Taking into account that Perez has found formidable success with his fastball due to his career bests in swinging strike percentage (12.4 percent) and wRC+ (95) off of the pitch, the veteran left-handed pitcher would have been a stout addition to the Brewers bullpen.
Overall, Stearns sure hopes to see his trade deadline moves pay off in the long run. Among them, he is looking to see the Brewers coaching staff exploit Rogers’ true potential.
“I think we’ve got a really talented staff and talented group of pitching coaches at the major league level, that have proven they can help a lot of different types of pitchers succeed,” Stearns said on Monday. “In Taylor’s case, a lot of this was and is reliever volatility that we can see. We think this is a good pitcher who’s going to perform for us.
“And we think our staff will be able to get the best out of him.”
Stearns took a gamble with his conservative stance at the trade deadline. It will be noteworthy to see whether it will all pay off in the form of a lengthy postseason run for Milwaukee. For now, the NL Central club is set for multiple crucial contests over the remainder of August, including a four-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.