The Milwaukee Brewers have a need at second base heading into the 2018 season.
There will be a lot of competition for playing time at second base in Coors Field next year. The Rockies had hot shot prospect Ryan McMahon already getting playing time in the latter part of 2017. Pat Valaika and Ian Desmond could also see time at the keystone position. Plus, top-5 pick Brendan Rodgers also could be ready to take over mid-season.
With all those players pushing for one position, what could happen with incumbent starter DJ Lemahieu? He has one year of arbitration remaining before he hits free agency for the first time next winter. He would probably want a trade out of town to someplace he can get regular starts so he can max out his potential contract in free agency.
LeMahieu won the NL Batting Title in 2016 and finished with a top-15 MVP spot that year. He’s also a two-time All Star and won a Gold Glove at second base back in 2014. LeMahieu has hit above .300 each of the past three years. He’s also been healthy the whole time, playing in at least 146 games each season since 2014.
His stats could be inflated by playing in Coors Field all those years. But he hits for a good average on the road. While he may not be a big power hitter, as his career high of 11 home runs in a season shows, the Milwaukee Brewers wouldn’t need him to be. All of the other hitters in the Brewers lineup will provide enough power to cover for LeMahieu.
MLBTR projects LeMahieu to earn around $8.8 million in his final year of arbitration. In order for the Brewers to acquire LeMahieu for one year, David Stearns may have to send a package that looks something like this.
Josh Pennington came to Milwaukee in the Tyler Thornburg trade. While he wasn’t the centerpiece of that deal, he will be the centerpiece in the deal for LeMahieu. He put in a good season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and is ranked as the 22nd best prospect in the Brewers system.
Bubba Derby was the second piece in the Khris Davis trade with Oakland and the 23 year old was at Triple-A all season in 2017. He’s a back end right handed starter at best, but he has enough potential to entice Rockies GM Jeff Bridich. Kyle Wren was the fourth outfielder much of the year in Colorado Springs. Now he gets a chance to go to another system that could have some openings in the major league outfield in the near future unlike Milwaukee.
With this package, the Milwaukee Brewers get one year of DJ LeMahieu to help stabilize the infield and make another playoff push. In doing so, the Brewers adon’t risk much long term. None of the three players going to Colorado will have a major impact on this Brewers team in the future. Pennington is only in Low-A ball and Derby and Wren were stuck in Triple-A all year.
The Rockies are always on the lookout for pitching that they can develop. It’s difficult to convince quality free agent pitchers to go to Colorado because of that thin air.
If LeMahieu’s great batting average can withstand leaving the thin air of Colorado for Milwaukee, then this is a great trade. Judging by his past home and road splits, even though he hits for a better average in Coors Field, he hits well on the road too. He put up a .303 average on the road in 2016 and a .294 average away from Colorado in 2017.
If Josh Pennington can be sent to Colorado as a centerpiece for LeMahieu, that means that David Stearns will have turned Tyler Thornburg into half of his starting infield. Colorado will be taking calls on LeMahieu this winter. Stearns is likely going to be one of the first to pick up the phone.