Sure, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic that the Cubs can overtake the Brew Crew in the division for the second straight summer, but it's not a guarantee Milwaukee fades in the second half again.
Especially if they go all-in before the July trade deadline.
A rumor from Jim Bowden popped up Wednsday morning indicating the Brewers could give up a huge group of guys to Baltimore for Manny Machado:
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) July 11, 2018
That is a RIDICULOUS package if true. Burnes is Milwaukee's top pitching prospect (No. 2 prospect overall, according to MLB.com), Broxton is a 28-year-old outfielder with extensive MLB experience and a 20-20 season under his belt (2017) before getting caught up in the numbers game in the outfield and Arcia is a stellar defensive shortstop who won't turn 24 until next month and was the organization's top prospect a couple years ago.
All for less than half a season of Machado?
Cubs fans balked at trying to give up Addison Russell in any deal for Machado. Arcia may not be as established as Russell, but he's younger, under team control for longer (won't become a free agent until after the 2022 season) and just put up a .731 OPS with 15 homers and 14 steals last season. He's taken a step back offensively this year, but it seems unwise to give up on a guy with only 274 big-league games under his belt.
Still, that's exactly the kind of package Cubs fans would hope the Brewers would give up - hurting the long-term hopes of the franchise while trying to go all-in for this season.
But Jon Heyman threw some cold water on that rumored three-player package Wednesday afternoon:
don't like to shoot down every rumor out there (party because I don't like my own rumors shot down!). but rest easy milwaukeeans, brewers are not sending a package of burnes, broxton and arcia for machado. not all 3. no way.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 11, 2018
Still, the existence of the rumor is just another nod to the Brewers going all-in.
In a matter of hours over the winter, they signed Cain to a 5-year, $80 million deal and traded for Yelich, greatly improving the top of the lineup, the outfield defense and the clubhouse in the process.
And if the Brewers can't get Machado, there are plenty of other candidates out there who could be nice additions to Milwaukee's playoff run:
Source: #Brewers, #Twins have engaged in trade talks. For now, Milwaukee is more focused on the Minnesota infielders (Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier) than Lance Lynn, although the Brewers had talks with Lynn as a free agent last winter. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 11, 2018
Both Escobar and Dozier are set to become free agents in November and the Twins certainly don't look like they're going to make a run at the AL Wild Card anytime soon.
Escobar leads the league with 35 doubles and is posting a career-high .853 OPS as a switch-hitter who can play all over the infield. Dozier is in the midst of the worst season of his career, but started slow last year, too, before going on a blistering pace after the All-Star Break (.304 AVG, .985 OPS, 21 HR, 52 RBI, 67 R in 71 G).
Both players should be available at a much, much cheaper price than Machado and would still help boost Milwaukee's squad.
Keep in mind this latest round of Brewers trade rumors are all about position players and doesn't even address the team's biggest weakness: Starting pitching.
The Brewers have the clout in the farm system to acquire a guy like Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard if the Mets put either of their aces on the block.
No matter what way you look at it, the Brewers aren't going to back down anytime soon as the Cubs continue to try to find their stride in 2018.