In order to understand the premise of this article, you first need to comprehend that the Milwaukee Brewers will not be a good team for at least four years. They are about to go into full rebuilding mode, and that’s a very long and difficult process. The Brewers are a small market team and can’t Yankee up after every bad season and throw large sums of cash at highly coveted free agents. Instead, they have to build through the draft, find underrated and undervalued players and start thinking outside of the box in terms of evaluating talent. Milwaukee’s prospect cupboard is bare aside from a few names like Orlando Arcia, Clint Coulter and Tyrone Taylor (don’t give up on him yet), but even they are not ready for the big stage. The Brewers need to start over.
The next few years will be anything but fun if you call yourself a Brewers’ fan, and it will be even worse when Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy get traded. You may not want this to happen as Gomez is one of the most exciting players in baseball and Lucroy has transformed into the face of Milwaukee’s franchise, but the trade of both of them absolutely needs to happen now.
Neither Gomez or Lucroy are duplicating the All-Star seasons they put together in 2014. Gomez has created just 1% more runs than league average (101 wRC+) while Lucroy, even though he missed a significant chunk of time with a broken toe, has somehow managed a -0.2 WAR. His offense has been nonexistent; just two of his 20 base hits have gone for extra bases. Nonetheless, they were both MVP candidates a year ago and a few lousy months isn’t going to change a team’s perception of them. They are still Milwaukee’s hottest trade chips.
They both turned 29 which is generally considered right in the midst of a player’s prime. Now, Lucroy will be valuable for a longer period of time solely because of his pitch framing abilities. Look at Jose Molina. The guy has never hit in the major leagues, but at age 40, he’s still on a major-league roster. The Tampa Bay Rays handed him a two-year contract extension in his 38-age season all because of how he catches balls behind the plate. The same will probably be the case for Lucroy. His value will exceed his prime years, but that’s why the Brewers would be wise to get rid of him now, when he has both his bat and his catching skills still intact. Gomez, however, will falter sooner. He will lose his impressive speed with age and his defense will decline. His prime years are happening now.
There is no reason for a ball club to have two MVP-caliber players who are in the prime of their careers if said ball club has no shot in competing. Absolutely no reason. You can tell me that they will sell tickets and that they will sell merchandise, but in the end, the value the Brewers would get back from them would trump all that by a long shot.
Besides, Gomez is not going to re-sign with Milwaukee after next season. The $8 million the Brewers are paying him now and the $9 million they’re paying him next season is a steal, and Gomez knows that. Plus, he’s a Scott Boras client. Do you really think Scott Boras is going to let Gomez re-sign for less money than his market value?
As for Lucroy, he’s eligible to be a free agent after the 2017 season (unless Milwaukee buys him out, which definitely won’t happen). He’s on a very team-friendly contract so it might make some sense to keep him around for another season. But after the year he just came off of, his value is at its peak. If the Brewers want to get the biggest return, they need to trade him now.
The main argument I’ve seen on Twitter against trading Lucroy is the lack of catching depth in Milwaukee’s organization. This is true. Other than Martin Maldonado, the Brewers have literally no one who has the skill or who is ready to be a big-league catcher. But my response to this is, who cares? They can sign a cheap free agent catcher. They can trade worthless prospects to acquire a somewhat OK catcher. The Brewers aren’t going to be a competitive team for years to come, so having a well-rounded catcher isn’t exactly a necessity.
I would hate to see Gomez or Lucroy get shipped off to another team, but because of what Milwaukee’s roster looks like now, it needs to happen. As does the Brewers rebuilding process.