With the MLB Trade Deadline coming up in exactly two weeks, rumors and speculation are running wild. The Milwaukee Brewers are right in the thick of it as they find themselves in first place of the NL Central.
Since the Brewers will not be selling and will most likely be buyers, that involves giving up prospects. So who could go and who will stay?
In an ideal world, the Milwaukee Brewers don’t give up any of their Top 30 prospects by the time the trade deadline passes. A lot of fans, myself included, don’t believe the Brewers should sell the farm for a run this year. But we don’t get to make the decisions, David Stearns does.
Stearns has been busy working the phones, doing background work on a lot of potentially available players for the deadline. From what we’ve heard, they’re all pitchers that he’s looking at. The pitching staff certainly is a position that could use some upgrades.
So with the potential to buy at the deadline, there are going to be available prospects and untouchable ones. Who could they be? Let’s look at who’s untouchable and who might be wearing a different uniform in August.
The Milwaukee Brewers highest rated prospect has certainly lived up to the billing this year in Triple-A Colorado Springs. He’s hit .338 with 10 homers and 19 doubles in the minors. He didn’t do much in the majors during his stint but that’s going to be irrelevant very soon.
Teams are most likely going to ask for Brinson in any deal for a top pitcher, especially in the Sonny Gray negotiations. But David Stearns isn’t letting him go anywhere. As the 13th best prospect in baseball, Brinson will be a central part of the Milwaukee Brewers future. He is staying with Milwaukee.
Although Hader is in the Major Leagues, he is technically still a prospect since he hasn’t reached 45 days on the active roster and hasn’t thrown 50 innings. But he’s not going anywhere either. Hader has been a quality member of the Brewers bullpen since his call up and could be a future ace in the starting rotation.
Teams will want him, that’s for sure. As the team’s best pitching prospect and the best lefty prospect in all of baseball, his name certainly will come up in conversations. But Stearns will follow that up with a big, fat “No”. Hader is untouchable.
Dubon came over in the lopsided Travis Shaw/Tyler Thornburg deal and he’s done nothing but impress since. He earned a mid-season promotion to Triple-A and is the future at second base. Dubon and Arcia will make an incredible double play duo for years to come.
Villar is having a terrible year. And Eric Sogard will be a 31 year old free agent at the end of the season. Dubon is the future at the keystone position and he isn’t going anywhere. He played in the All Star Futures Game during the Break and plenty of teams were able to get a look at him.
He’s a great defender and hits for a high average, making him an extremely valuable Major Leaguer. But he is staying in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform.
Phillips is currently with the big league club and has been up and down a couple of times this season. He’s a valuable depth piece that has found his bat again after a rough 2016. There is a strong arm to go with quality defense. He’s looking to be a big part of the Brewers outfield of the future, so he won’t go anywhere.
A lot of people have included Phillips in potential trade packages. But he won’t be. Stearns has acquired a lot of outfield depth through the system and Phillips is at the top of it. He’s shown in his limited time in the big leagues that he can have success. For that reason, he’s untouchable.
Although Burnes is currently ranked as the 20th best prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system, that figures to change in the midseason update. Burnes has a 1.09 ERA through 18 starts between High-A and Double-A this year. Drafted only last year, Burnes has dominated the minor leagues and could reach Milwaukee fairly quickly.
The Brewers are high on Burnes, and rightfully so. Teams are going to be intrigued by Burnes because of his stats this year but Stearns won’t just give up a player like this. He could potentially help the Brewers make a playoff run this year.
Most likely, he is going the win the Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. He is off limits. If teams start asking about Burnes, Stearns won’t just say no. It’s probably going to be a “Hell no”.
As much as the Milwaukee Brewers would like to keep Corey Ray, their first round pick in 2016, they could be faced with a hard choice. If David Stearns wants to get Sonny Gray, he’s going to have to give up Brinson or Ray. If he’s given the choice, he’s more likely to give up Ray.
That doesn’t mean he will, and Ray isn’t a sure thing to get traded at any point in the future, beyond just this year. The Brewers love his power-speed combination and he has a very high ceiling. But if the Brewers want to get an ace, Ray will likely have to go.
If it’s anything less than Gray, Corey Ray isn’t likely to go anywhere but the potential is still there for him to go.
Ortiz is in a similar scenario to Ray. Teams like Oakland, who are shopping an ace, will want a simlar return to what the White Sox got for Jose Quintana. That means a top hitting prospect and a top pitching prospect as headliners, So in the same way Stearns will have to choose between Brinson and Ray, he will have to choose between Hader and Ortiz.
Ortiz is the odd man out in that scenario but Stearns could still be unwilling to part with him for Sonny Gray. If it’s not for an ace, then Ortiz is probably going to stay. His ceiling as a number two starter will entice other teams and will only go if the Brewers get an ace in return.
Clark is probably the most available prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system. It’s a crowded outfield picture and Clark is going to be crowded out of it. He’d probably be one of the last outfield prospects to make it to the major league level as a high school draftee in 2015. By the time he’s ready, there won’t be a spot for him.
He still has a high enough ceiling to be the centerpiece of a trade package and bring back a quality major league player. He swings the bat really well and is the sixth rated prospect for Milwaukee.
Clark will not play in the Major Leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers. He could go at this deadline, this winter, or next year and beyond but at some point he will be traded.
Diplan came to the Brewers in the Yovani Gallardo deal in 2015 and he’s the 11th rated prospect in the farm system. At only 20 years old, he’s still a ways away from the big leagues and he could entice teams looking for young arms to develop. He’s got a big fastball that can hit 98 MPH and while he hasn’t had much success this year, but he has potential.
He’s a guy that can improve a possible trade package without mortgaging much of the future for Milwaukee. While he’s not necessarily likely to go, Stearns probably won’t mark him as untouchable.
Cordell was the PTBN in the Lucroy/Jeffress deal last trade deadline and he could be on the move again. He was a part of a loaded Triple-A outfield with Brinson and Phillips but he’s the only one who hasn’t gotten a call up yet. He’s having a good season but the Milwaukee Brewers haven’t given him a shot.
Perhaps they don’t view him as a long term answer in the outfield and are giving him regular at-bats to increase his value on the trade market. He’d make a quality fourth outfielder in the major leagues and that would probably be what his ceiling is in the future Brewers outfield if he stays.
Cordell could get a chance to start in another organization and he could be available in talks for pitching help this year.
How Available Are They?
Just because these players have been listed as available doesn’t mean they’re likely to go anywhere. The Brewers probably won’t give up any of their top 30 prospects at this trade deadline. Most of these players would only be available for guys like Sonny Gray and JA Happ and nothing else.
The next two weeks are going to be very important for the future of the Milwaukee Brewers. If they pay too high a price for a guy like Gray and he doesn’t perform up to expectations, it could set the organization back. If they stay put and hold on to their prospects, the future will be as bright as it is right now, even if it means that a World Series in 2017 is much less likely.
The Milwaukee Brewers could be entering a “damned if they do-damned if they don’t” scenario when the deadline comes. If they do go for it, it could backfire and they could fail to make the playoffs and set the organization back. If they don’t, their playoff window could close and this could be only time in the next five years the rest of the division is playing this poorly.
So what could they do? Only time will tell. Fans will most likely criticize David Stearns’ decision no matter what it is and that comes with the territory. The Milwaukee Brewers will be in a lot of headlines and rumors in the coming days and it may be hard to keep track of all of the news. The Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is the most exciting thing in baseball that doesn’t involve actually playing baseball. Things are starting to get serious.