COMMENTARY | There are probably only a handful of teams that have committed to selling and rebuilding this season, and to an extent, the Milwaukee Brewers are one of those teams. They are one of just six teams to be more than ten games out of a playoff spot.
While a complete rebuild isn't necessarily, the route Milwaukee has to go because of its solid core on offense, it appears to be set on making trades that will help it contend two or three years down the road.
Several names have surfaced when potential trade bait is discussed, and for all we know, any one of them could be wearing a different uniform by the end of July.
Rickie Weeks is someone many Brewers fans would like to see dispensed, but poor performance and a bad contract make him unattractive. Corey Hart's expiring contract makes him another player Milwaukee would like to move, but he has yet to play a game this season and might not be back until after the All-Star break.
Aramis Ramirez? He's owed $16 million next season and has a bum knee. As far as pitching, Kyle Lohse is the No. 1 name that comes up, but he's in the midst of a 3-year, $33 million deal and has yet to perform up to standards this season. Yovani Gallardo's name has even been thrown around, but are the Brewers ready to give up on the 27-year-old?
The bullpen has been a strength and features names like Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez and Jim Henderson, but you can only get so much in return for relief pitching.
That leaves one last name -- right fielder Norichika Aoki.
The first question that needs to be answered is if Aoki is really a trade chip. Logan Schafer has performed admirably this season and shown flashes of what he could bring if placed in an everyday role, which helps to make Aoki expendable.
As far as Aoki, he brings a lot to the table. It's hard to find a true leadoff hitter, and Aoki has fulfilled that duty for the Brewers with a split of .292/.365/.386 this season. He's also been reliable in the field -- Aoki has the second-highest defensive WAR on the team -- and, all in all, he's just a player you can count on day-in and day-out to show up and play.
At 31 years of age, Aoki comes at an incredible bargain. He's making just $1.25 million this season, has a club option in 2014 and is arbitration eligible from there on out.
Not only is he one of the best players the Brewers are making available, but his value is also second to none, and with Schafer waiting in the wings, Milwaukee can afford to part ways with Aoki without suffering much of a drop-off.
Of all the options, Aoki emerges as the best trade chip on the Brewers.
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.
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