Milwaukee Brewers: Jason Kipnis, trade target

The Cleveland Indians have a second baseman they would love to flip. The Milwaukee Brewers need a player to start at second until prospect Keston Hiura is ready. Could Jason Kipnis end up with the Brewers?

The Cleveland Indians sound like they want to roll with superstar Jose Ramirez at second base, and Yandy Diaz at third base in 2019. That means that second baseman Jason Kipnis will need to move into the outfield, or find a new home.

The Milwaukee Brewers are in the market for a second baseman, and a deal for Kipnis could give top prospect Keston Hiura more time to develop. Is there a chance the two teams can work out a deal?

How did Kipnis perform in 2018?

Well, he played 147 games and managed a 2.1 WAR, so at least he stayed on the field?

Kipnis slashed .230/.315/.389 in 601 plate appearances. He blasted 18 homers, and stole seven bases in eight attempts. He also racked up 65 runs scored, and drove in 75. Kipnis split his time in the field at second base and center field. He only committed nine errors in 1133 2/3 innings at second, and his range metrics were solid. He can still handle the keystone position, even if the Indians are pushing him into the outfield.

What’s his contract like?

Kipnis has one-year remaining on his current deal at $14.5 million. He has a team option for 2020 for $16.5 million, and it comes with a buyout worth $2.5 million.

What would a deal for Kipnis look like?

A couple bats? A bag of balls? A few ‘magic’ beans? The Cleveland Indians are looking to shed payroll to the point that Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have both been shopped. Getting out from under Kipnis’ contract would go a long way towards fixing their payroll issues.

The more of Kipnis’ contract the Milwaukee Brewers take on, the less they’ll have to send back to the Indians. If they take on the remaining $17 million, a name off a Single-A roster should send Kipnis to Milwaukee. If the Indians can eat some of Kipnis’ deal, a name off a Double-A roster should send him to the Brewers. He won’t cost a real prospect at this point.

Does Kipnis fit with the Brewers?

Actually, he does. Kipnis for one-year makes a lot more sense for the Milwaukee Brewers than D.J. Lemahieu, Jed Lowrie, or Daniel Murphy for multiple seasons.

Hiura or Mauricio Dubon will come up at some point in 2019, and one of them should work their way into an every day job. Lemahieu, Lowrie, and Murphy need to play, and don’t really fit at other positions. Kipnis is capable of coming off the bench, and can move into the outfield if needed.

Kipnis is left-handed, but the Milwaukee Brewers only have three position players on their roster who are lefties. One of them, Eric Thames, could find himself on another roster before Spring Training. Kipnis could allow the Brewers to sit Hiura or Dubon against tough righties, and he could come off the bench against right-handed relievers in the late innings.

Kipnis will be expensive for the Milwaukee Brewers, but it’s only for one season. The Brewers can add Kipnis for a minimal cost, start him at second until the prospects are ready, and then transition him into a bench role when the it’s time to go with Hiura or Dubon.

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Kipnis can rebuild his value with a team contending for a playoff spot, and work his way into another contract somewhere else in 2020. He’s also only two years removed from a 4.0+ WAR season. In his age-32 season, Kipnis still has value, and can still get another contract before selling real estate or opening a small business when his playing days are over. This deal makes sense for both sides. Let’s hope that David Stearns and Mike Chernoff bump into each other at a buffet in Las Vegas this week.