COMMENTARY | At this point of the season for the Milwaukee Brewers -- and this is sad considering how it's barely even July -- there are only silver linings and trade possibilities.
What Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez have done is remarkable, and having Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy on board for the next several years means the Brewers have something to build around. The turnaround of the bullpen has been nothing short of a miracle, although some members of that bullpen will be elsewhere come the end of July.
Not only that, but what good is a top-of-the-line 'pen when the starting pitching hardly ever hands it a lead?
The silver lining here is that good relief pitching is almost always a need for contending teams at the deadline, and Milwaukee has plenty of that. The fact that Yovani Gallardo has been up and mostly down this season could also be a blessing in disguise. If Gallardo was pitching like the ace everyone hoped he could be, the Brewers would have no desire to trade him, but with the team down-and-out and Gallardo failing to live up to expectations, he's on the block.
Throw in names like Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki, Rickie Weeks and Kyle Lohse with Gallardo and relief pitching, and if general manager Doug Melvin plays his cards right, he can get a solid return. Ideally, getting at least one of the following players would be worth his troubles.
Are there any inside scoops that the Brewers are targeting these five players? Not really. But these teams are all contenders. Their needs are clearly stated, and they are needs Milwaukee can fulfill. We'll do our best to justify why a certain player is worth what the Brewers would get back.
Time to speculate.
Skaggs, 21, is a 6'5" southpaw and was rated the D-Backs' No. 1 prospect by MLB.com prior to the season. Arizona has reportedly shown interest in Gallardo and the Chicago Cubs' Jeff Samardzija, but word is that when the Cubs inquired about Skaggs and fellow top prospect Archie Bradley, talks ceased.
But Skaggs does not appear to be untouchable. With Triple-A Reno this season, Skaggs is 6-6 with a 4.26 ERA -- not exactly numbers you'd expect from a top prospect. In three starts with the D-Backs, Skaggs went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
It may be asking too much for Arizona to part ways with Skaggs, but Gallardo, 27, has 2 1/2 more years of team control and if anything, is a proven No. 2 starter despite struggling this year. The Diamondbacks' starting pitching currently ranks No. 19 in ERA.
When the Brewers were shopping Zack Greinke last season, the Rangers were a front runner, but hesitant to trade either Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt. So why would Texas change their stance this time?
Well, as mentioned before, Gallardo is under contract for another two-plus years. So is Lohse, who is performing better than Gallardo and has roughly the same amount remaining on his deal.
Greinke? He was a free-agent at season's end
Olt, who is now 24, is blocked by Adrian Beltre and only hitting .206 with Triple-A Round Rock this season. Meanwhile, the Rangers' starting rotation has been decimated by injury this season. With Ramirez' time running out in Milwaukee, Olt would be a huge get for the Brewers, who don't have any viable options at third in their system.
Boy, do the Tigers need help in the bullpen. They were forced to send down one-time closer Jose Valverde to Triple-A, and they rank No. 22 in ERA among relief pitching. The Brewers just so happen to have one of the best bullpens in baseball, a year after having one of the worst. Baseball.
It's difficult to gauge how much Milwaukee can get in return for relief pitching, so we'll target Jake Thompson, the No. 8 prospect in the Tigers' system via MLB.com. Thompson is only 19 and was a second-round draft pick of Detroit last season.
The Brewers need them some arms, and someone with high upside like Thompson, who is 0-1 with a 3.14 ERA with Low-A West Michigan, would be an ideal acquisition. Whether the services of Francisco Rodriguez or John Axford are enough to pry Thompson away is a different story.
4. RHP: Martin Agosta (San Francisco Giants, Low-A)
The Giants are beginning to fade a bit and are 2-8 in their last ten games, but having said that, they are only three games out in the wretched yet competitive NL West. San Francisco needs help all over, including in the starting rotation (No. 25 in MLB) and in the outfield.
Once again, Lohse and Gallardo are names that should pop up, and the Brewers could make it a package by including Aoki. He's one of the better lead-off hitters out there, and we recently learned Aoki is only under team control through 2014.
A package containing Aoki and Lohse/Gallardo could be enough to acquire Martin Agosta and another prospect, who like Thompson was a second-round pick from last year. The 22-year-old is only 6'1," but he throws in the mid-90s and is 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA this season.
5. RHP: Brandon Workman (Boston Red Sox, Triple-A)
Right behind the Tigers in bullpen ERA are the Red Sox, so they could be a potential suitor for K-Rod, Axford, Michael Gonzalez or anyone else in the Brewers' 'pen. As with Thompson, who isn't quite a high-end prospect, Brandon Workman garners a No. 12 ranking from MLB.com in Boston's farm system.
The 24-year-old former second-round pick is more big-league ready than Thompson, and earned a call-up to Pawtucket this season. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Workman is 8-2 with a 3.42 ERA and nearly a 4-to-1 K/BB ratio while remaining consistent at every level.
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
- Yovani Gallardo
- Tyler Skaggs
- Kyle Lohse
- Norichika Aoki