The needs of the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason are not a well kept secret.
Pitching is the top need. Top of the line starting pitching to be exact. However, another spot to fill for the Milwaukee Brewers is an everyday second baseman. Eric Sogard was just brought back, but between him and Jonathan Villar there is a lack of trust game in and game out. It is easy enough for the two to platoon and hope that Mauricio Dubon is ready to step into the limelight, but why risk it?
A quick trip to the city of Cleveland, Ohio could provide the answer to at least one of the checklist items. As nice as it would be to get their top of the line starter, Corey Kluber, it is not even a remote possibility. The Indians have proven to be perennial contenders recently, and they need their ace in uniform.
The trade pairing comes in when looking at one of their former All-Stars who sits without a home on their infield. Odds are that Jason Kipnis will be on the move, and the Milwaukee Brewers may be just the place.
What does the deal look like?
It may seem odd for an MLB level player to be dealt for only one prospect, but it seems to make sense here. Both teams have plenty to gain from a deal like this, and come out winners on the other side.
What do the Brewers give up?
Diplan is a hard throwing righty. His fastball can touch 98. He is an exciting part of the Yovani Gallardo deal that has the potential to be a solid number three starter in a future rotation. As the number 15 prospect in the organization, there are high hopes for Diplan going forward.
One of the other parts of that Gallardo deal was Corey Knebel. So it is not a wasted trade if Diplan does not see a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. While the 21 year old can light up a radar gun, he still struggled in Advanced A ball with an ERA over five. Despite that, he is a great talent that the Indians would probably like to have in their system.
What do the Brewers get?
Yes, an everyday second baseman. They also get his contract, which promises Kipnis as much as 14 and a half million dollars over the next two years. Then there is a club buyout option after 2019.
They also get a former All-Star, a reliable hitter, and they don’t have to give up that much. Beyond the obvious, they get flexibility. A move like this allows the team to possibly trade a guy like Villar in a deal that brings in that top of the line starter. That kind of flexibility is something David Stearns could turn into gold.
In 2017 Kipnis did battle injury. That hindered his numbers a little bit, causing him to hit only .232. However, he has enough of a track record to prove to be better than that. In several different full seasons he posted a WAR in the mid fours. A healthy Kipnis really helps the lineup, and that is something well worth adding.
Why would the Indians do this?
This is the multi-million dollar question. And there is a fairly simple answer. They have no need for Kipnis and the 13 and a half million he is owed in 2018. They don’t want to pay a backup/utility player 14 and a half million in 2019. So why not get a return on him?
One of the biggest benefits to transferring his contract to another team is that they can work on their first base situation. Carlos Santana is a free agent, that leaves an opening. Edwin Encarnacion works much better as a DH, so free agency would have to provide the defense. Having more money to offer betters their chances to find it.
Getting Diplan is a win for the Indians. They have three starters north of 30, along with their marquee reliever Andrew Miller. And contract time is coming for the core of their pitching in 2019 and in the few years to follow. They are going to need to bolster their young arms waiting in the wings.
With a live fastball and time needed to learn to control it better, the Indians should love the idea of getting Diplan from the Milwaukee Brewers. They can groom and teach the 21 year old to become a reliable arm for them in the future. And they have no rush on it, they can do it right.
At the end of the day, this could be a very exciting deal for both sides. The Milwaukee Brewers would benefit greatly from Kipnis, and they have the resources to send off Diplan. Whether this be the deal or not, expect Stearns to be in contact with Cleveland about their former All-Star.