With the off-season now officially started for every MLB team, we continue our coverage of potential trades and free agent signings for the Milwaukee Brewers. We’ve detailed a potential trade with Kansas City and now we turn to another AL Central team, the Detroit Tigers.
The Detroit Tigers are about to embark on a long rebuild, similar to what the Brewers went through in 2015. The Tigers have unloaded a couple of large contracts but still have a few left to get rid of. Milwaukee could be a place to send one or two of those contracts.
Ian Kinsler is one name that has been connected to the Brewers the most over the past couple months. Even after signing Eric Sogard to a one year deal, the Milwaukee Brewers will still want to add a second baseman. Kinsler has one year and $11 million left on his contract.
What would it take to get Ian Kinsler? Presumably it wouldn’t take much so the trade might look something like this.
Carlos Herrera came to Milwaukee in the Adam Lind deal a few years ago and has now turned himself into a fringe top 30 prospect. He’s still far away from the big leagues, but is just 20 years old. Herrera posted good numbers in Low-A Wisconsin and has increased his value enough to be included in this trade.
Kyle Wren was the fourth outfielder in Triple-A for most of the season when Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips, and Ryan Cordell were all there. But in 476 ABs, Wren hit .286 with five homers, 62 RBIs, and ten triples. Wren also swiped 26 bags on the season. With the overload of outfielders in the Milwaukee system, Wren has no future in Miller Park. But the Tigers could use some outfielders right away and Wren could be that guy.
There are a couple of advanced outfielders in this Brewers system that aren’t considered top prospects and have no future with Milwaukee. Tyrone Taylor and Johnny Davis also fit this bill and could be other candidates to be on the move in a Kinsler trade. But Wren played in Triple-A all year while Taylor and Davis were in Double-A so Wren could help Detroit coming out of Spring Training.
While this trade may serve the need at second base there’s another need that Detroit could help David Stearns with, and that’s the starting rotation.
The Detroit Tigers signed Jordan Zimmernann to a five year, $110 million deal prior to the 2016 season. Zimmermann is two years into that deal and so far has shown no sign of being worth that contract. With Washington, he never had an ERA above 3.66 since becoming a regular member of the rotation. He is a two-time All Star and finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting twice.
But since going to Detroit, he’s posted ERAs of 4.87 and 6.08 in two years. That doesn’t sound like a pitcher the Milwaukee Brewers would normally be interested in. But that Cy Young potential is still in Zimmermann somewhere. He’s just not successful in Detroit and could use a change of scenery.
What better change of scenery than coming home? Born and raised in Auburndale, WI and went to college at UW-Stevens Point, Zimmermann would likely welcome the opportunity to pitch for his home state.
But with $74 million remaining on his contract, and little success in the past two years, the cost to acquire Zimmermann has dropped considerably. If Detroit wants to get any decent player in return for Zimmermann, they will need to pay down a large chunk of his salary. A potential deal could look something like this.
The Tigers need outfielders in the worst way and the Milwaukee Brewers have a bunch of them. Keon Broxton is the one that may need to be on the move due to the emergence of Brett Phillips and Lewis Brinson. After putting up a 20-20 season with Milwaukee, Broxton has some value.
Tyler Webb came over from the Yankees for Garrett Cooper and his first pitch in a Brewers uniform was hit out of the park. The rest of his pitches weren’t all that great either. He finished the year in Triple-A and will have to make a major league comeback with a different organization.
The Brewers get $30 million to pay Zimmermann’s salary for the next three years. Spending it evenly at $10 million per season, the Brewers would only be on the hook for $14 million in 2018 and $15 million for 2019 and 2020. That’s a reasonable salary if Zimmerman can pitch like his old self again. Key word there is “if”. Pitching coach Derek Johnson has worked wonders for Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson and perhaps he can do the same for Zimmermann.
A move like this would be beneficial for everyone involved. Zimmermann can work with Johnson and resurrect his career in his home state. The Brewers get a starting pitcher that can be a top-line guy and give Milwaukee a great healthy trio of Anderson, Nelson, and Zimmermann.
Plus they clear up their outfield picture a little bit. Broxton gets a chance to be a starter on a new ball club without prospects taking his playing time. Tyler Webb gets another chance to give a better first impression than he did in Milwaukee.
By giving up Broxton, the Milwaukee Brewers get to keep their stash of outfield prospects. Perhaps trade them for more of a sure thing than Zimmermann. With the huge need at outfield that the Tigers have, in either of these prospective deals an outfielder will be required.
Giving up a guy like Monte Harrison or Trent Clark could be too much for David Stearns and Broxton can help the Tigers right away. Any of the other prospects are a few years away from the major leagues.
The Tigers traded their best players during the summer and got good returns on them. The only movable players left are Kinsler and Zimmermann if they accept lower returns. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have too large of contracts to move. And they did not have a good 2017 season. Even moving Zimmermann will be tough but Broxton may be an acceptable centerpiece.
Kinsler is likely to be moved this winter. And the Milwaukee Brewers will most likely make a few calls about him to Detroit. David Stearns could also mention Zimmermann in these talks. But if the Brewers somehow managed to get both, it would likely be two separate deals rather than one large one.