Trades between division rivals are few and far between. However, the Milwaukee Brewers need a top starter, and the Pittsburgh Pirates need to retool. The two teams may find themselves as trade partners. Check out our idea for the perfect trade between Team Jolly Roger and the Brew Crew below.
The Milwaukee Brewers are in the market for pitching. Everyone knows this. They don’t just need a guy. They need a front-line starter who can eat up 200+ innings and post a sub 3.50 ERA while racking up quality starts. The Pittsburgh Pirates appear likely to move on from Gerrit Cole sooner than later. The Pirates are essentially in baseball hell. Their core isn’t old, but they’ve proven that they’re not quite good enough to contend. It looks like it’s time to cash out or double down. If they cash out, Cole should move first.
What does a deal for Gerrit Cole look like?
You’ve heard the phrase, “You’ve got to give something to get something,” right? That’s exactly what this deal is. The Milwaukee Brewers give up three shiny prospects who don’t have the clearest paths to a role on the 25-man roster. In exchange, they get a 27-year old starter who has two years of arbitration remaining.
What do the Brewers give up?
Losing Mauricio Dubon, Jacob Nottingham, and Lucas Erceg will sting. There’s no getting around it. Erceg is developing into a solid third base prospect, but Travis Shaw is going to start every day at third for the next eight years. A move to the outfield or to first base only further blocks Erceg from an every day role with the Milwaukee Brewers.
We’re big fans of Jacob Nottingham, but the Pittsburgh Pirates need catching depth. Nottingham gives the Pirates a catcher to pair with Francisco Cervelli, but can also fill in at first. KJ Harrison is poised to rocket through the Brewers system. Right now, Harrison’s bat isn’t as developed as Nottingham’s, but his glove is farther along.
Mauricio Dubon is on the cusp of a job with the Milwaukee Brewers, and that makes dealing him tough, but necessary to get a top starter. Dubon’s glove his ready, his bat is just about ready, and his legs are more than ready for the Major League level.
This trio gives the Pirates a third baseman of the not-too-distant future, an almost Major League ready infielder, and greater depth at catcher. This is the right deal for the Pirates if they choose to move on from their veterans and rebuild.
What do the Brewers get?
Gerrit Cole had a deceptively rough season in 2017. He logged over 200 innings at the Major League level for the first time. His K/9 was over 8.00 and his BB/9 was under 3.00. All of these are positives. His ERA ended up north of 4.00, while his xFIP indicated that he pitched like a 3.81 ERA pitcher. His velocity didn’t dip and none of his past ailments bothered him.
Cole underwent a ‘statistical variance’ when the ball was hit in the air against him. His HR:FB ratio ended up at 15.9%. His career average is 10.0%. That translates to real numbers as well. He was tagged for 31 homers last year. Cole made almost 100 starts at the Major League level before 2017. In those starts, he allowed 36 homers. Total.
According to HitTrackerOnline, 16 of Cole’s homers allowed were rated as ‘Just Enough’, while one was rated as ‘Lucky’. If just a few of those Just Enoughs manage to find gloves in 2018, Cole’s season will be very different.
This deal enables the Milwaukee Brewers to acquire a front-line starter to eat up innings, but he’s also due for a bounceback in 2018. They have to surrender three solid prospects, but the potential for a return to the playoffs outweighs the loss of their young talent.