COMMENTARY | In baseball, we've seen big trades go down long before we approach the final days leading up to the MLB trade deadline.
Take the Milwaukee Brewers, for example. In 2008, they made the blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Indians for CC Sabathia on July 7 -- 24 days before the non-waiver deadline. Immediately following the 2011 All-Star game, Milwaukee dealt for Francisco Rodriguez -- 19 days before the deadline.
One bonus of conceding that you're out of the playoff race is knowing what direction you want to head in as a franchise. The extra wild card spot will keep many teams believing they are still contenders, giving the Brewers more potential trade partners as we close in on July 31.
But we can break down that list of teams and figure out the five most likely candidates to swap players with Milwaukee based on team needs, personnel and who wants to make a real push at winning the World Series in 2013.
By the way, a lot of them do.
As far as what the Brewers might get in return? That's where we're going to end the speculation, but Milwaukee won't simply send away some big names if it doesn't get what it's looking for in return, which is minor league prospects.
We'll link to MLB.com's top prospects of 2013 from which you can navigate between each team listed below to get a feel for who the Brewers might be interested in pursuing. The folks over at the Wisconsin Sports Blog also offered a few ideas regarding players the Brewers could receive in return.
You can all but hand over the AL Central crown to the Tigers at this point, but they have a much bigger goal in mind after falling just short of a title last season. Detroit has had issues in the back-end of the bullpen, so they could partner up with the Brewers to acquire some adequate arms to shore up perhaps the only weakness on its squad.
Normally a strength for the Giants, their starting rotation has the second-worst ERA in the National League -- only the Brewers are worse. Milwaukee would like to unload Kyle Lohse's contract and would listen to offers for Yovani Gallardo, even though he has turned things around as of late.
Offense has also been hard to come by for San Francisco lately, a team crammed together with three other teams near the top of the NL West. With Hunter Morris and Logan Schafer ready to become every day contributors in Milwaukee, Norichika Aoki and Corey Hart are both available.
Will Middlebrooks has been a mess over at third base for the Red Sox, who currently lead the AL East. The Brewers wouldn't mind shipping over Aramis Ramirez, who is owed $16 million next season. The Sox also come into play on June 18 ranked No. 20 in bullpen ERA, so someone like Michael Gonzalez, Francisco Rodriguez or Jim Henderson could be of service.
The Rangers are a middle-of-the-road team in regards to starting pitching, but after Yu Darvish, there is a drastic drop off, especially with Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis all on the 60-day DL. Former Brewer and now current Ranger pitching coach Mike Maddux may want to reunite with Gallardo, and Texas may need outfield help if Nelson Cruz winds up being suspended for his association with Biogenesis. The Rangers are currently two games back of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.
The Orioles are proving that last season's run to the postseason wasn't a fluke and are just two games out of first in the AL East. That is despite having one of the worst rotations in baseball, and their bullpen could use some work, too. There's also the issue of having an injury-prone second baseman in Brian Roberts, whose replacements have struggled to do much of anything.
Names like Lohse and Gallardo surface once again as pitchers with a proven track record. And of course, the Brewers have Rickie Weeks as well and one of the top bullpens in baseball. Weeks could help to bridge the gap to Jonathan Schoop, one of Baltimore's top prospects.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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- MLB trade deadline