Brewers Receiving “Strong Interest” in Mike Fiers From Blue Jays


The 2015 MLB non-waiver trade deadline is just 11 days away, yet we have to see much movement overall on the trade market. Many clubs are still trying to figure out if they will be buyers or sellers; with the second wild card now in effect, every team in the AL is within eight games of a playoff spot and only four teams in the NL are more than nine games back.

One of this year’s “definite sellers” of course, are our own Milwaukee Brewers. Things did not go as planned for our beloved local nine to start the season, and though they have been playing much better baseball as of late, the Brewers are still sitting at 41-52 and currently possess a 0.4% chance at making the postseason. Most of the talk surrounding this year’s team has been about how deep of a “reset” the Brew Crew will undertake; will they simply try and move expiring contracts and reload, or will they actually move worthwhile assets in order to seek greater prospect returns?

Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Toronto Blue Jays have shown “strong interest” in Brewers right handed starter Mike Fiers, which would definitely qualify as a “rebuilding” trade for Milwaukee. The Blue Jays currently sit at 47-47, just four games out of a wild card spot and 4.5 games behind the division leading Yankees. The Blue Jays starters currently rank third worst in the American League with a 4.35 ERA. Performance estimators like Deserved Run Average says they are fortunate to even be that good; DRA pegs the rotation’s true talent at a 4.64 (6th worst in the MLB). Mark Buehrle and familiar face Marco Estrada have had terrific seasons in Toronto, but the rotation has generally been a mess of injuries and ineffectiveness behind those two, leaving the Blue Jays in search of an upgrade.

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Mike Fiers, 30 years of age this year, would certainly fit into the upgrade category for the Blue Jays. He is currently in the midst of a solid season in Milwaukee, this being his first full season in the major league rotation. In 107 innings pitched, Fiers has posted a 3.79 ERA to go along with 106 strikeouts, 40 walks, and a 38.4% ground ball rate. Mike hasn’t quite matched up to his dominant 2014 half-season (perhaps due in part to a change in fastball usage), evidenced by a 4.18 DRA and 0.87 DRA_PWARP, both down from last year. He is, however, firmly establishing himself as a useful rotation arm going forward, and a 93 cFIP- says he should be an above average contributor for the rest of the season.

Fiers was a late bloomer after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2009; he did not make his MLB debut until 2011 and has four years of club control remaining after this season. He won’t even be arbitration eligible until after next season, a fact that is especially enticing to the Blue Jays (though that also makes the Brewers less motivated to move Fiers, as Rosenthal notes no deal is close).

Despite coming with ample club control, it is fair to question whether Fiers fits into the long term picture in Milwaukee. Already 30 years of age, there is likely little upside left for Fiers’ to achieve; what we’ve seen (3.62 ERA, 3.63 FIP in 330.2 major league innings) is likely what we’re going to get going forward. While that level of production is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, the fact remains that the Brewers have several younger arms that they’d almost certainly like to see during a possible rebuilding period.

Still, the Brewers definitely won’t let Fiers go for cheap. He has proven his ability to be an above average major league starter, and with four years of control remaining, he could be the anchor in the middle of someone’s rotation for a long time. The Blue Jays do have a strong farm system, and while Toronto is unlikely to part with Daniel Norris or Dalton Pompey, certainly players like RHP Sean Reid-Foley or 3B Mitch Nay would pique the Brewers’ interest. It will definitely take a package of talent, not just a single player, for the Brewers to move Fiers.

Mike Fiers has been one of the Brewers bright spots in what has been a dark season in 2015, so it’s no wonder why he is garnering interest from a team in need of pitching. With his track record of success and relative cost certainty going forward, however, it’s going to take an overwhelming offer to convince the Brewers to ship him to Toronto. While the Blue Jays have the farm system to get something done, I don’t envision the Brewers moving Mike Fiers this season unless it’s in a package deal that involves a larger salary (Francisco Rodriguez, who has been linked to Toronto, perhaps?) being moved as well.

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