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Last year, despite trailing the Chicago Cubs by two-and-a-half games in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers made no major moves. Doing a lot does not always yield a net positive, so it was understandable for a young, overachieving team to stay the course as the defending champions caught fire behind early midseason acquisition Jose Quintana.
This year is different. They have since welcomed Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain to the fold and enjoyed a boisterous breakout from Jesus Aguilar. They already added Joakim Soria to a bullpen perfectly assembled to wreak havoc in October.
They now lag one-and-a-half games behind the Cubs, but they lead a wild-card scrum of eight teams separated by five games. One triumphant week could propel them to the Senior Circuit’s best record. Another seven-game losing streak, like the one they began before the All-Star break, could evict them from the playoff picture.
Now is the time to pay off a lengthy rebuild by exchanging some of their talent surplus for immediate upgrades—not necessarily their top two prospects, Keston Hiura or Corbin Burnes, but the type of above-average pieces who could land them Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins.
If deGrom or Syndergaard is available, then yes, trade Hiura and/or Burnes for a bona fide ace who can anchor a playoff rotation, including an NL Wild Card Game start if needed.
Their inclusion here doesn’t mean they are planning on an inactive deadline. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has already linked them with Dozier, Gibson and another Mets starter in Zack Wheeler. According to Rosenthal, they have also had “serious discussions” with the Orioles, who could match their needs by moving Jonathan Schoop and/or Kevin Gausman.
Any of them would make a commendable addition. With Eovaldi, Happ and Hamels gone, they’ll need to pay more for a starter under contract beyond 2018.
No manager will complain about having too many good relievers in his arsenal, so bolstering a strength with Soria was a solid start. Yet second base and a depleted rotation remain glaring holes to fill before August.
UPDATE [Saturday, July 28 at 10:40 a.m. ET]
The Brewers acquired Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez. While the move improves Milwaukee’s offense—especially if the slumping third baseman can regain his April magic in a much better hitting home environment—it also sacrifices defense.
Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt, manager Craig Counsell said the team will slide Travis Shaw from third base to second, a position he has never played in seven professional seasons. It’s a considerable risk to make for a pending free agent batting .225 since the start of May.
It’s an especially odd choice if they could have landed Dozier for a similar price.
The Brewers must now turn their undivided attention to the rotation. And no, they can’t just move Ryan Braun or Eric Thames there.