Report: Milwaukee Brewers Make Veterans Available for Trade

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It’s been a long and winding journey through the seasons’ first month for the Milwaukee Brewers. After yet another loss yesterday, 1-0 to the Cincinnati Reds, the MLB-worst 5-18 Brewers find themselves 11.5 games back in the NL Central with seemingly little hope of recovery. The struggled have come on all fronts for Milwaukee, who boast the league’s third worst offense, worst collective pitching staff, and have routinely misplayed balls in the field of play.

Despite the impending return of Carlos Gomez to the lineup tonight, the Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin has apparently realized that this season is not one in which the team will be contending for a championship. In an interview last week on “Brewers 360,” Melvin mentioned on a handful of occasions that every team needs to “step back, retool” every so often, and discussed how difficult it can become when a team is “caught in the middle” between contention and rebuilding. However, a report last night from Bob Nightengale indicates that the Brewers’ are ready to change their direction.

With that, let the rebuild begin.

By just about all accounts, these veterans players have gotten off to less than stellar starts to their season. However, each has a long track record of success at the major league level that they can try and sell teams on. By making their veterans available so early in the season, the Brewers should be able to maximize any possible returns on them, since the acquiring team will be able to utilize their talents for a longer stretch of time.

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Aramis Ramirez is almost 37, and has managed only a .593 OPS and six extra base hits this season. Ramirez does own a .285/.343/.495 line and 371 home runs in his 18 year career, and was an All-Star as recently as last season. Though the right handed swinging Ramirez generally doesn’t hit for as much power as he used to and hasn’t walked much in recent seasons, he is still among the best defensive third baseman in the game this year, with a UZR rating of 3.2 runs above average and a range rating of 2.4 runs above average. Aramis has been heating up recently, with an OPS over 1.000 and two home runs over his past nine games, and could make sense for an American League team where he could DH on occasion to give his legs a rest. Ramirez should be able to fetch a couple of mid-level prospects in the final season of his contract.

Kyle Lohse is 36 and also in the final season of his contract, and has struggled with the long ball out of the gates this season. Lohse has given up 24 earned runs and eight long balls in 29.2 innings pitched for a 7.28 ERA. Kyle’s velocity is still in the same 89-91 MPH range that it’s been during his stint with Milwaukee, and he is still maintaining an excellent 3.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Lohse’s 21.1% HR/FB ratio is more than double his career rate and not sustainable, and his SIERA of 4.27 and xFIP of 4.20 paint much rosier pictures of Lohse’s actual production. He has been worth 5.8 WAR over the last two seasons, and should net the Brewers a similar return to the one the Giants gave up for Jake Peavy last year.

Matt Garza is the youngest of the trio at 31, but comes with the heftiest financial commitment of the year, with around three years, $37.5 mil (and a vesting 2018 option) remaining on the deal he signed prior to the 2014 season. Like Lohse, “the Count” has had issues with the home run ball this season, giving up five so far in 29.1 innings pitched. His command hasn’t been consistent this year, but he hasn’t lost any significant velocity and is generating more ground balls (at 49%) than any other season in his career. Garza’s 20% HR/FB ratio also figures to drop, and he was rated at 2.6 WAR by Fangraphs last season. His contract and injury history might be an impediment in a potential trade, though a team with plenty of financial might, like the Dodgers (who just lost Brandon McCarthy for the year) could make sense as a potential suitor for Garza. Perhaps a blockbuster package with Garza and Jonathan Lucroy?

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While moving these players is a good start, it should only scratch the surface of the moves the Brewers’ will try and make this season with several movable assets. Adam Lind should bring a strong return if he can keep hitting, and players like Gerardo Parra and Jonathan Broxton should be able to bring back some decent value as well. With Carlos Gomez set to return from the disabled list today against the Cubs, there is little doubt the Brewers will begin receiving a flood of calls for the superstar center fielder’s services. The Brewers should also be listening to any potential deal for shortstop Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy, though those two players are probably going to take pretty significant packages.

With 2015 all but lost at this point for the Milwaukee Brewers, the team has wisely made the decision to begin the process of re-tooling their roster for the next era of success in Milwaukee. Though making three veterans available isn’t quite to the level of rebuild I want to see, it’s a good start to get the ball rolling on what could be a summer of wheelin’ and dealin’ by Brewers’ General Manager Doug Melvin. This will be just the beginning of a rumor mill that will probably keep every fans’ head spinning until the trade deadline, and should hopefully infuse the type of top end talent into a minor league system that has been sorely lacking for the past several seasons.

The rebuild is coming. Are you excited yet, Milwaukee? I’m positively giddy.

Next: Vote for the Brewers' April Pitcher of the Month

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