COMMENTARY | Nearly one week separates us from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and yet the Milwaukee Brewers, who appear to be clear sellers, have only made one move. That deal came way back on June 3, the acquisition of Juan Francisco.
While this doesn't appear to be a move of much significance, it opened the door for the Brewers to trade either Aramis Ramirez or Corey Hart since Francisco has the ability to play both corner infield positions. Since joining the Brewers, Francisco has been fairly serviceable, putting up a .243/.317/.468 split with 7 HRs and 16 RBIs.
But since trading for Francisco, news broke that Hart would miss the remainder of 2013, and Ramirez has also dealt with injury and won't be healthy by the non-waiver deadline.
A move involving Ramirez and his hefty contract could possibly come before the waiver deadline on Aug. 31. As far as other position players go, there has also been reported interest in right fielder Norichika Aoki from the Texas Rangers (via Jon Morosi of FOX Sports), but he comes at a bargain and there hasn't been much news circulating around Aoki as of late.
Enough with position players -- where teams are really hitting Brewers general manager Doug Melvin hard with inquiries, believe it or not, is on the pitching front.
That's because Milwaukee has one of the best bullpens in baseball, and several contenders are in need of relief help. On July 21, following the Brewers' marathon victory over the Miami Marlins, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports wrote that the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox have all shown interest in K-Rod.
Throw in names like John Axford, who has allowed a whopping one earned run in the past two months, is making $5 million this season, and is arbitration eligible following 2013; and Michael Gonzalez, a left-hander on a one-year deal with a 2.88 ERA on the season. Quite frankly, it's difficult to find any weakness in Milwaukee's bullpen.
It hasn't only been the bullpen on the radar of contending squads, although interest appears to be dwindling in Yovani Gallardo. It has also been rather nonexistent in Kyle Lohse, likely because he is only in year one of a 3-year, $33 million deal despite putting up pretty good numbers (6-7, 3.49 ERA).
Jayson Stark of ESPN isn't sensing much interest in Gallardo around the league after rumors heated up in early-July. After scouting Gallardo during his start on July 20 against the Marlins, two executives told Stark that Gallardo was a "4-5 starter." Ouch.
The fact is that Gallardo has looked like a No. 4 starter this season, with Lohse taking over as the ace and Wily Peralta going on an absolute tear over his last four starts. Even after throwing 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball against Miami, Gallardo is just 8-8 with a 4.58 ERA.
The Brewers do appear to be finding some stability in the starting rotation despite injuries to Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers and Alfredo Figaro, with Tom Gorzelanny and Donovan Hand filling in better than anyone could have expected. And even if they do wind up dealing K-Rod, Gonzalez and Axford, there are still some quality arms ready to fulfill larger roles in the 'pen.
So as we look into the crystal ball, what winds up happening?
Gonzalez seems like a surefire bet to be dealt, as he is a lefty, has an expiring contract and believes he will be traded (via Tom Haudricourt of JSOnline). With Rodriguez's popularity and potential suitors growing, you have to figure a team will overbid for his services, making Melvin an offer he can't refuse.
To be quite honest, that might be it. Call it a hunch, but Axford doesn't feel like someone the Brewers will want to throw away for mediocre prospects. The same goes for Gallardo. Even though there haven't been many murmurs regarding Lohse, he's the most likely starter to be dealt, but neither he nor Gallardo should be traded considering the talent -- or lack thereof -- Milwaukee would receive in return.
As far as position players are concerned, it looks like Ramirez would have to clear waivers for a deal to be hashed out sometime in August. That just feels unlikely, and his health has to be a major concern. It's a shame because several teams are in need of help at third base.
Finally, there's Norichika Aoki. Once again, it doesn't feel like he will be going anywhere when considering his contract ($1.25 million this season with a $1.5 million club option for 2014), ability (.360 OBP) and the Ryan Braun suspension. Yes, Logan Schafer is the outfielder in waiting, but he might be needed in left field with Braun missing significant time.
We'll just have to wait and see where the chips fall and the dominoes tumble.
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_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco
- Yovani Gallardo
- Norichika Aoki