The Milwaukee Brewers have more starting pitchers than rotation spots. Could a trade with the Tigers be a remedy to the situation?
It’s no secret the Milwaukee Brewers have a glut of arms vying for a spot in the starting rotation. Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin seem to be locks to open the season in the rotation. Jimmy Nelson will certainly join them once he’s healthy.
With that in mind, it seems like Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley and Junior Guerra are all competing for one or two spots in the rotation. One of them could stay on the active roster as a long reliever. However, this still presents a major roster crunch.
One solution is to trade one of these starters, although none of them will command an especially high price with the exception of Woodruff. Suter seems like a frontrunner to crack the rotation, and Gallardo was just signed. This leaves Miley, a non-roster invitee, and Guerra. This makes Guerra seem like the clear candidate to be dealt somewhere. But where?
Detroit Tigers Pitching Situation
At this point, the Detroit Tigers have a few established starting options. Michael Fulmer is the consensus ace of the staff. Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Fiers (#OldFriendAlert) also appear to be locks despite their recent struggles. Beyond them, things are still up in the air. Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris, Francisco Liriano, Buck Farmer, Alex Wilson…yeah, they have a number of options for the final two spots. Travis Wood was also an option for a starting gig, but he tore his ACL in a rundown earlier in the spring.
Is Junior Guerra a Fit with the Tigers?
Why is Junior Guerra a good option for the Tigers if they already have all these pitchers in camp? Well, for one, many of them have virtually no track record of success in the majors. Liriano is well past his prime, although he’s still a serviceable arm. Norris likely has the most upside of the bunch given his age and pedigree. Boyd may have a leg up on the competition at this point, but his numbers are less than stellar over the past couple years.
Guerra struggled last season, but he’s just one year removed from a very strong season (2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). He could be a nice lottery ticket for a team already destined to dwell in the cellar of the AL Central.
Secondly, Guerra has experience in long relief. He doesn’t need to be a starter for Detroit, but he spent much of last season as a reliever. He has the stamina to fire three or four innings out of the bullpen, but also made single-inning appearances in 2017. Granted, many of the other pitchers in Tigers camp could fill this role, too.
The biggest reason to send him to Detroit is that he is a good stopgap for the team’s younger pitchers. Guerra is 33 years old and has relatively little long-term upside. For a contending team like the Milwaukee Brewers, he doesn’t really fit in the team’s plans. He’s also out of options, so the Brewers could lose him for nothing if he doesn’t break camp with the big-league club.
For a rebuilding squad like Detroit? Guerra fits in nicely. His presence would allow the Tigers younger arms spend more time in the minors to develop. Then, once they’re ready, the Tigers could DFA Guerra with little consequence.
The Return for Junior Guerra
One other thing working in favor of a Junior Guerra trade is the relatively modest package to acquire him. I see the return being something similar to what reliever Francisco Rodriguez commanded a few years ago. The Milwaukee Brewers received infield prospect Javier Betancourt in exchange for the veteran.
In this instance, I see a couple of options the Tigers could ship back to Milwaukee. The Brewers are rather thin at third base in the minors outside of Lucas Erceg. As such, I could see Kody Eaves as a possible fit. He’s close to the majors, but he profiles more as a utility player than as a regular. He’s also blocked at third base by Jeimer Candelario and at second by Dixon Machado this season. Alexi Amarista also has the reserve utility role on lockdown for the 2018 campaign.
The Tigers also have a ton of outfield prospects. They could very well part with a lower-tier outfield prospect to make a deal happen. I’m looking at Troy Montgomery or Jake Robson as potential fits in this instance. Both are 23-year-old left-handed hitters who should see time in Double-A this season. There are a number of more exciting outfield prospects in the system (Daz Cameron, Christin Stewart and Michael Gerber to name a few), so dealing Montgomery or Robson is not a huge price to pay.
The Tigers need to show some signs of competitiveness. The union is starting to call teams out for tanking, so maybe a trade for Guerra is just what they need to show some semblance of competing. It won’t cost much for them, and at least the Brewers can cut bait with the right-hander with some return.