Brewers Trade Deadline Needs: First Base and Third base
By Tyler Koerth
As the Brewers offense continues to struggle, two positions they could look to improve upon this year is first base and third base. Before we get to trade targets, let’s take a look who the Brewers have had at these spots so far.
Entering 2020 the Brewers brought in numerous veterans to play the corner infield spots. Those players were: 1B Justin Smoak, 1B Logan Morrison, 3B Jedd Gyorko, and 3B Brock Holt. To date, only Justin Smoak and Jedd Gyorko remain in a Brewers uniform
To say things haven’t gone as planned at the corner infield positions would be an understatement.
Justin Smoak has pretty much been the everyday first basemen with the Brewers so far. His versatility to bat from either side has been valuable, but like many other Brewer hitters, has overall struggled to produce so far.
However, Smoak recently has started to heat up. The big question the Brewers have to answer is if they saw enough during this mini hot streak to not warrant upgrading at first base at the trade deadline.
So far through 2020, Gyorko has been a platoon player under Craig Counsell’s management. Starting against lefties has not provided Gyorko with a ton of opportunities, but he has been productive and clutch while in the lineup this season. However, after Brock Holt was DFA’d, Luis Urias came in and has started receiving more playing time at third base.
Do the Brewers feel comfortable going forward this season with Urias and Gyorko at the hot corner?
Who could the Brewers target at 1B?
One potential first base target is Mitch Moreland from the Red Sox. Although he is 34 years old and typically is a league average hitter, Moreland has been one of the most productive first basemen this season. His eight home runs, 21 runs batted in, and .350/.458/.817/1.275 slash line certainly helps back that up.
While it does seem a bit odd that Moreland is suddenly breaking out this season, the Brewers would be able to have him under club control for the 2021 season for he has a $3 million club option. I think it is fair to say Brewer fans would welcome the left handed hitter with open arms if they were to acquire him.
Another potential first base target comes from the divisional rival Pittsburgh Pirates. Their all-star first basemen, Josh Bell, has essentially lost it so far this season. His .189 batting average, .233 on base percentage, and increased number of strikeouts certainly isn’t encouraging, but you would have to think this hitter will progress to the mean at some point.
If the Pirates are looking to trade Josh Bell, this would help the Brewers lock up a first basemen until 2023, as 2021 will be Bell’s first year of arbitration. Bell set career highs in home runs (37) and runs batted in (116) in 2019 and he is just too good of a hitter to stay as bad as he has been in 2020.
Who could the Brewers target at 3B?
One potential target to play third base is Angels utility man Tommy La Stella. The Angels have not lived up to expectations this year and could look to part ways with La Stella. In 2019 La Stella was having a career year at the plate before suffering a season ending leg injury. La Stella did hit 16 dingers in 321 plate appearances last year, a career high.
In 2020 La Stella is continuing to hit. He has hit four home runs, driven in 14 runs, and has only struck out seven times all year! His current slash line is .273/.371/.475/.854. All of those numbers are well above his career averages.
The Brewers could also look to target Todd Frazier. Many believed the Brewers should have signed him last offseason, but he instead went to the Texas Rangers and has a $5.75MM club option for the 2021 season.
In 2020, Todd Frazier is playing as expected. His .240 average is not outstanding but he continues to get on base and slug the ball at a decent clip. Frazier’s power numbers are slightly down so far this year, but he still has plenty of pop in his bat.
Whether or not the Brewers decide to let their veteran players on one year prove in contracts ride out the remainder of the 2020 season or not will be something to monitor as the trade deadline approaches. Again, the trade deadline is Monday August 31st, 2020 at 4:00pm ET.