Category Archives: Trade Talk

A little Gerardo Parra perspective

Gerardo Parra is going to be traded. There’s little doubt about that. He’s going to be moved because he’s the hottest hitter on a terrible baseball team. That’s as simple as logic gets.

But for some reason, there are Brewers fans out there who think Milwaukee should sign the outfielder to an extension. First of all, I can’t believe there’s more than one person who thinks this, but there is, just look on Twitter. Second of all, I can’t believe people think his production this season is actually sustainable.

Therefore, it’s time for a little Gerardo Parra perspective.

Despite what his fielding stats say in 2015, Parra is a top-tier outfielder. He won a Gold Glove in 2013 and can play every outfield position with the best of them. The majority of his career WAR total comes from his defense, because, up until this season, Parra’s offense has been suspect. Before the season commenced, Parra owned a career .326 on-base percentage and an 89 wRC+ as a six-year major leaguer. His only above-average season came in 2011, which is the only time he ever posted a wRC+ over 100. With a lack of power and too many ground balls, Parra has never been a “good” hitter.

Enter 2015.

Parra ranks 26th in wRC+ (135) and 23rd in wOBA (.371). His .193 ISO is by far a career high, and with two more home runs, he’ll also break another career mark. Parra’s BABIP is also a best, sitting at .360. When putting everything together, Parra has been one of the very best hitters in all of Major League Baseball. That’s right. Gerardo Parra, the player the Brewers got in exchange for a very fringy outfield prospect in Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda, has been a better hitter than the likes of Michael Brantley, Kris Bryant and Adam Jones.

Does anyone really think Parra suddenly turned on a switch and became a top-30 hitter in baseball? To sane people, the answer is obviously no, but the people with brains in their heads aren’t who this article is targeted at. It’s directed at the insane. In other words, I’m hoping insane people read this.

2015 has been an amazing offensive season for Parra, but it won’t last. And even he probably knows this. We have six years of sample size to determine this, and even though Parra, who just turned 28, has entered his prime, thinking his prime is that of an amazing hitter is crazy talk.

He’s been really, really good for 326 plate appearances this season, but in all likelihood, Parra will revert back to an amazing outfielder but just an OK hitter when 2016 hits. His performance will earn him a bigger free agency contract than originally thought, but it won’t be that of a perennial All-Star. And it shouldn’t be.

Parra will be traded by the Brewers, and it is absolutely the right decision.

Predicting who gets traded and who stays

We are now at the All-Star break, and for teams sitting at the bottom of the standings, like the Milwaukee Brewers are, it’s a welcome furlough. The four-days off is also usually the beginning of trade season, as teams are either getting ready to stack up for a postseason run or start shedding veterans in order to ignite the rebuilding process. In case you don’t know anything about anything, the Brewers will be doing the latter. At 38-52, they have the second-worst record in Major League Baseball. They are officially sellers.

Milwaukee is currently in possession of a handful of players who contending teams should be calling about. They have veterans with expiring contracts, but they also have players who are on the cusp of their primes, making them extremely coveted.

The Brewers won’t trade their entire roster (even though I’m not against the idea), but it’s safe to say they’ll be sending a few players out of the city known for its beer. So let’s make some predictions.

Players who will get traded

OF Gerardo Parra – Numerous teams are in need of outfield depth (see Kansas City), and with the way Parra has performed offensively, his name is one of the hottest on the block. Of outfielders with at least 300 plate appearances, he has the 13th-highest wRC+, not to mention his on-base percentage of .344 would be his best mark since 2011. Parra is as good as gone.

SP Kyle Lohse – I know his ERA and everything else you can possibly look at is downright terrible, but I still have this feeling that a team is going to take a flyer on him, for the right price, of course. The Brewers won’t get much back and they’ll probably to have pay some of his remaining salary, but with Lohse being a free agent after the season, why wouldn’t a team in need of a back-end starter go after him?

3B Aramis Ramirez – Every team needs hitting and Ramirez can still provide that at 37 years old. He’s a notorious slow starter and this season was definitely no exception. His numbers are finally beginning to improve, however. After producing a .272 wOBA in June, he crushed the ball in July and finished the month with a .366 wOBA. He, like Lohse, is in the last year of his contract (and career). He’s a rental who a team will trade for.

1B Adam Lind – He’s been the best player on the Brewers in 2015 and is probably the best hitter on the market. He’s already put up 2.1 WAR while creating an impressive 43% more runs than league average. Lind could bring back a fairly decent haul, especially compared to the other guys I listed above. If a team is looking for a high OBP player who hits home runs, Lind is the man for the job.

RP Francisco Rodriguez – I’ll admit I was wrong about Rodriguez. I thought he would be equally as bad as he was in 2014, but as it turns out, he’s been lights-out. His strikeout rate (30.8%) is back in line with his career norms and he’s no longer getting bit by home runs. He would be a very valuable add to a bullpen in need of a high-leverage reliever. The only thing stopping a team for making a play for him is his big contract. He’s owed $7.5 million in 2016 with a $6 million club option in ’17 ($2 million buyout). That’s a lot of money for a closer who’s been up and down in the past few seasons. Still, I think the Brewers will trade him yet again, but this time, there will be no reunion between the two.

Players who won’t get traded

OF Carlos Gomez – The Brewers should trade him, but I think they’ll wait another year. They need to be able to sell tickets in 2016, in spite of the talent-less roster they’re sure to put together, and people will pay to see Gomez. I feel like that is a terrible reason not to trade someone, especially since his value now is higher than it will be next year, but it’s what the Brewers will presumably do.

C Jonathan Lucroy – Lucroy’s going to stay in Milwaukee as well. The Brewers will have to be unbelievably blown away in order to trade a great catcher with a team-friendly contract like Lucroy. I think Lucroy will be involved in a mid-season trade next season, but not this one.

RP Jonathan Broxton – Making the playoffs and doing well once you’re there is nearly impossible without a quality bullpen. Basically everyone is looking for bullpen depth. By old-school numbers Broxton has been less than quality in 2015, which is why I don’t see him being moved. The Brewers would get next to nothing in return for him. so maybe their mindset is, why bother?

SS Jean Segura – I struggled with Segura. I can easily see him being traded, seeing as how Orlando Arcia is coming for his job. But which team is going to give up what the Brewers demand for him? That’s the big question here. Segura is a young and defensively talented shortstop who hasn’t hit much to date. What’s he really worth? Because that’s unknown, I think Segura stays put.

Could a Jean Segura for Steven Matz trade happen?

Before I start, let me just say I highly doubt a Jean Segura for Steven Matz trade will happen, so please don’t think I’m delusional. It would be an unbelievable trade for the Brewers and a less than stellar one (to put it nicely) for the Mets. There’s a very small chance that New York’s front office would ever green light a trade of this nature. However, even though there’s a small chance, there’s still a chance. And the Mets don’t really have a history of making the smartest acquisitions. Furthermore, they apparently already have interest in Milwaukee’s young shortstop.

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Brewers and Mets have engaged in trade discussions centered around Segura and third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

Morosi makes no mention of Matz, so this is just pure speculation on my part. I’m honestly just curious if a trade of this magnitude is plausible.

Let’s start with Milwaukee’s side of this trade.

The Brewers are hopefully about to begin a massive rebuild. I mean, if they had any sense at all, they’d trade as many players as possible on the current 25-man roster. Things are bad in Milwaukee, and the next few years will be nothing to smile at either. The time to start over is now. And starting over begins with acquiring young players who can make an impact in the future.

Teams can’t win without pitching, and the Brewers farm system, in terms of arms, is weaker than my pinky toe. The few pitchers I’m excited about, like Kodi Meideiros, are a years away from sniffing the major leagues, which is fine, considering the Brewers are now looking to the future. But the need to load up on young arms is crucial, and Matz (24 years old) could be one of those arms. If it’s going to take the Brewers three years or so to finish the rebuild (three years is on the short side), Matz will just be entering his prime years and his value will be through the roof.

Baseball America ranked left-handed Matz as the Mets’ second-best prospect behind Noah Syndergaard entering the 2015 season. He made his major league debut on June 28, and before going on the disabled list with a partial tear in his left lat muscle, he was doing quite well for a rookie hurler. In his two starts, he struck out about 27% of batters and allowed just a .167 batting average on balls in play. That played into a 1.32 ERA, but a 4.25 FIP and 3.97 xFIP. He walked quite a few hitters and gave up two home runs in his 13.2 innings.

But because his major league stats screams “small sample size,” we can’t and shouldn’t put too much merit into them. Instead, we need to look at how he performed in the minors. In 90.1 innings in Triple-A, Matz pitched to a 2.19 ERA and a 3.44 FIP. Like in the majors, he issued too many free passes (8.6 BB%), but that was really his first run-in with a plethora of walks. He walked just 14 hitters in 71.1 innings in Double-A in ’14, so it’s a bit too early to know if he’ll have control problems as a major-league pitcher.

Matz features a plus fastball and a plus changeup with a curveball thrown in there. When he threw his changeup, he made hitters swing-and-miss 14.3% of the time while up with the Mets. The Brewers would love to have someone of his caliber launch the rebuild.

As far as Segura goes, the Brewers shouldn’t really have a problem unloading him. They have stud shortstop Orlando Arcia, who is figured to be one or two years away, waiting and killing Double-A. And because Segura has not hit a lick with the Brewers (.296 wOBA and 83 wRC+ in his career), I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers are ready to move on from him.

Clearly, this trade favors the Brewers, but there are a few reasons why the Mets might want to take the risk and ship off one of their best prospects for a former highly touted prospect in Segura. The first one being that the Mets are already stacked with top-notch pitchers. They have Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard. Not to mention they have a high-strikeout guy in Rafael Montero in the minors.

New York has pitchers to spare, but what they don’t have is a shortstop. When comparing Segura and current Mets’ shortstops Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores, there’s not much difference in their hitting profiles. They’re all below-average hitters who don’t get on base all that often. However, Segura is the superior defender at short over Tejada, has more upside despite being the same age as Tejada and older than Flores, and comes at a very cheap contract price with three more years of club control.

And who knows? Maybe the Mets believe that Segura will turn into a league-average hitter. He did hit consistently well in the minors, and 2014 was a lost season because of the death of his infant son, so we have to take his lackluster performance with a grain of salt. Segura still has a lot of time to live up to his billing. Upside is the keyword here.

If the Mets did send Matz to Milwaukee, my guess is that New York would demand more than just Segura in return. And they’d probably want more than just a throw-in player. Maybe a player like Tyler Thornburg or Corey Knebel would be enough for them, although I doubt the Brewers would part with a young, high upside guy like Knebel. But if the Brewers want someone like Matz, they’ll need to part with a player similar to who I just mentioned.

Segura alone won’t be enough.

Why teams should be interested in trading for Jonathan Broxton

From 2006 to 2010, Jonathan Broxton was a helluva relief pitcher. During those five seasons, the big right-hander accumulated 9.2 Wins Above Replacement, leaving only Mariano Rivera (11.0) and Jonathan Papelbon (10.8) as more efficient relievers.

Broxton was considered one of the best relievers in baseball, but in the years that followed, his fastball velocity dropped along with his effectiveness. Since 2011, his last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Broxton’s WAR (1.1) is more reminiscent of a replacement player. His strikeouts dwindled, he allowed too many home runs and, as a result, his FIP was nowhere close to where it used be during his prime years. Oh, and his ERA suffered too.

The Milwaukee Brewers have no need for an aging closer, not when they’re about to start the rebuilding process. Therefore, the Brewers would love to get rid of him and his $9 million contract, but Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says there’s a good chance Milwaukee won’t be able to move him.

Broxton figured to be difficult to trade because of his $9 million salary and no-trade protection in his contract. Toss in an ugly season (7.16 ERA in 30 outings) and Melvin likely has heard mostly crickets when bringing up his name.

Yes, Broxton hasn’t been a half-way decent reliever in 2015, so much so that manager Craig Counsell removed him from the eighth-inning role (which is a ridiculous role, but I’ll save that rant for another time). If you look at Broxton’s old-school numbers since he joined the Brewers midway through the 2014 season, you could probably say he should be put in a long relief position instead of one that pitches in primarily high-leverage situations. He posted a 4.35 ERA in 11 appearances last year, and has been hit for a 6.91 ERA so far in 2015. In terms of WAR (-0.1), he’s actually been less valuable than a replacement player.

But we don’t care about old-school stats at this site, do we? Instead, we like looking at stats that paint a clearer picture of a player’s performance. So. Let’s do that.

The difference between Broxton’s ERA and FIP is enormous. In fact, the difference (6.91-4.20=2.71) is Major League Baseball’s fifth-largest contrast among relievers who have pitched at least 20 innings. In other words, he’s a lot better than what is Earned Run Average claims. Probably because he’s been a victim of some pretty horrible luck. For his career, Broxton has allowed a .306 batting average on balls in play, which is very close to the norm seeing as how about 30% of all balls put in play fall for hits. But this year, Broxton is allowing a grand .378 BABIP, the highest since his rookie campaign. There’s a good chance that high number won’t be sustainable for the entirety of the season, meaning it’s safe to say Broxton’s numbers will start to get better.

In fact, almost every peripheral stat that we have at our disposal say that Broxton will have a plethora of more success as the season goes on.

6.91 4.20 3.10 2.96 92

Broxton’s FIP isn’t great, but not nearly as bad as his ERA. His xFIP is fantastic. His SIERA, which is a good predictor for future performance, is below 3.00. His cFIP, which I haven’t cited before on this website, is above average.

In case you are unfamiliar with the relatively new cFIP, I’ll let the creator of the metric, Jonathan Judge, explain it to you. Below is a brief synopsis of what the stat accomplishes, but if you want the full explanation, go here.

cFIP has multiple advantages: (1) it is more predictive than other pitcher estimators, especially in smaller samples; (2) it is calculated on a batter-faced basis, rather than innings pitched; (3) it is park-, league-, and opposition-adjusted; and (4) in a particularly important development, cFIP is equally accurate as a descriptive and predictive statistic.

The last characteristic makes cFIP something we have not seen before: a true pitcher quality estimator that actually approximates the pitcher’s current ability.

We are always looking for statistics that can accurately predict a pitcher’s future performance, and cFIP does it admirably. Any cFIP under 100 is considered above average, and Broxton has a 92 cFIP. According to this metric, Broxton should be an above-average reliever going forward in 2015. He’s striking out almost 24% of batters, his highest rate since 2010, and his walk percentage is the lowest of his career. There’s no way his ERA should be pushing 7.

The above is why teams in need of relief help should target Broxton. He’s better than how he’s pitched, and the concern over his declining fastball should be moot. His fastball velocity is averaging 94.3 mph, up from 93.4 in 2014. Broxton has, however, seemed more susceptible to giving up home runs, though. His 20.8 HR/FB% is definitely concerning, but a change of venue to a stadium more pitcher-friendly than Miller Park could be the answer. Either way, I don’t see that percentage rising anymore. If the season ended today, Broxton’s HR/FB% would be the 14th-highest mark in baseball since the stat began to be tracked.

The money situation is still an issue, but I’m sure the Brewers would be more than happy to pay their fair share of his remaining contract. Milwaukee needs to get as much money off the books as possible. The Brewers won’t get much in return for Broxton, that much is certain, but anything they can get should be viewed as a win.

Broxton is not the dominant reliever he once was, but he can still help a contending team in need of a solid reliever. Hopefully, Doug Melvin hears more than just crickets when he brings Broxton’s name up to teams.

My Twitter exchange with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick

On Tuesday night I saw a tweet from ESPN’s and Baseball America’s Jerry Crasnick from a few days earlier. I thought the content of the tweet was ridiculous, so I responded. Thus began a healthy dialogue between the two of us.

Twitter 1

Apparently, a Major League Baseball executive is of the opinion that Milwaukee Brewers’ pitchers Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza will not be moved because no team will want to take them on. I vehemently disagreed with that thought.

Twitter 2

He clearly was fascinated by my “giggle” comment which is probably the main reason he responded. If I would have tweeted “This makes me laugh,” odds are this article would not be in existence.

Twitter 3

The only thing Mr. Crasnick and I disagreed about was whether or not Lohse and Garza could be moved. We both agreed that, as of now, they have very limited value and that Milwaukee’s potential return on them would be small. But that’s not what I was arguing about. I wholeheartedly believe that both of them can and will be moved this season. He sided with the executive, by making the strong argument that the market is bare for “aging pitchers with big contracts and bad numbers.” This makes sense, but the MLB executive could easily be attempting to manipulate the trade market. It happens all the time.

Look, I don’t care if Lohse has a 10.00 ERA. I still think the Brewers could move him. At 36 years old, he still has upside. He’s posted an ERA under 3.60 in four consecutive seasons, so what contending team wouldn’t want to take a chance on him? Sure, he has the worst ERA among qualified starters in 2015 and his FIP is almost just as bad, but like I said, there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around. He’s getting hit for a .311 BABIP, the highest since 2010. He’s also not walking more batters than usual and he’s actually striking out more. Lohse clearly has had a decent amount of bad luck this season. Home runs are an issue, yes, but maybe he needs to go to a more pitcher-friendly park. Safeco? The thought that no team wants to take on some of his $11 million contract is ludicrous. Odds are the Brewers will pay most of it, anyway.

Finding a trade partner for Garza might be a bit more difficult, but it’s still very possible. He still has three years left on his deal after 2015, and is owed a lot of money. But he has even more upside than Lohse as he is just 31. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in a Brewers’ uniform in 2016, but that would probably be the last of him in Milwaukee. If the Brewers want to rebuild, they can’t do it with his contract.

I’m fairly certain Lohse will be traded this season, and I have to think there’s at least a handful of teams already calling general manager Doug Melvin. If he doesn’t get traded, I’ll be surprised, but I’ll make sure to tweet Crasnick and admit he and his source were correct.

There is a market for Lohse and Garza. It’s just up to the Brewers to find it.

The time to trade Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy is now

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.

Flipping Luis Sardinas might be in the cards

The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Luis Sardinas as part of the trade that sent Yovani Gallardo to Texas. And with Scooter Gennett being demoted to the minors, along with Hector Gomez and Elian Herrera doing very little positive things at the plate, Sardinas was called up maybe earlier than what people expected. In 32 games in Triple-A, Sardinas posted a .324 OBP and created 10% fewer runs than league average. In other words, he didn’t do much with the bat that warranted a promotion; however, his Triple-A numbers as a player in the Brewers’ organization were better than they were as a Triple-A player with Texas.

After a hot start with the big-league club, Sardinas has slowed down and has become the player most scouts have him pegged as. He’s good with the glove (although Defensive Runs Saved has yet to see that), but very below-average offensively. He has yet to walk this season, and is striking out at a 23.8% clip. Plus, his lack of power is unsettling.

Sardinas is a shortstop by trade, but unluckily for him, the Brewers already have one of those in Jean Segura. And no, the Brewers are not about to give up on Segura. Milwaukee also has a stud shortstop in Double-A right now in Orlando Arcia. Arcia, by the way, is currently taking the league by storm. ESPN’s scout guy Keith Law recently ranked him as baseball’s 20th-best prospect. He’s so talented that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak suggested the Brewers might move Segura to third base in order to make room for Arcia. They might not need to do that if Arcia can man second, but as of now, that’s not in the plans.

Sardinas is capable of handling second base, which makes him a bit more valuable, but do the Brewers really want three infielders — Segura, Arcia and Sardinas — who have absolutely no pop or power in their bats? I would be very surprised if the infield shaped up like that in the future. The Brewers have a hard enough time as it is scoring runs.

That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if Sardinas is wearing a different uniform come August.

It basically comes down to this: who has the higher ceiling, Sardinas or Gennett? The Brewers will probably trade one of them, if not both, and I think Sardinas would offer the greatest return. He’s younger, is a better defender and can switch-hit, meaning there’s no need to platoon him like a team would and has done with Gennett. Milwaukee would, however, need to demand a power-hitting third baseman or a second baseman with at least gap power. When Aramis Ramirez retires after the season, the Brewers will be in desperate need of someone in the infield who is capable of producing runs.

Sardinas might be the ticket that grants that wish.