Some teams- like the Rays, Cubs, and Reds- seem to be making salary-cutting moves in order to offset pandemic-related financial losses. On the other hand, teams such as the Padres, White Sox, and Mets are loading up on free agents and trade acquisitions, seemingly going all-in. But what about the Brewers?
To this point the Brewers have been quiet, likely due to the lack of clarity on whether or not the Designated Hitter will stick around in the NL in 2021 and beyond. (Figure it out, Manfred!) Their signings have been minor thus far, adding depth pieces such as Pablo Reyes and Tim Lopes in recent weeks.
It is worth speculating about which teams make sense for the financially-limited Milwaukee Brewers to trade with to upgrade their roster without breaking the bank. We’ve done similar articles highlighting the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers as potential trade partners, so now let’s look at an NL West club coming off a rough 2020 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It has been well-documented which positions are in demand for the Brewers- primarily first base and third base.
The Diamondbacks are an interesting case because they currently have a quality starting first baseman in Christian Walker, but they also have a couple noteworthy first-base prospects, former first rounders Seth Beer and Pavin Smith.
We’ve already looked at Beer and Smith as possible trade options, so let’s take a look at Walker and some prospects that might intrigue the Diamondbacks.
The Brewers have several options, including catcher Payton Henry and outfielder Joe Gray that have some potential. Also, guys like Corey Ray or Zack Brown might catch their eye in a Walker trade. Although for their starting first baseman, Arizona might push for an Aaron Ashby instead.
Any of these prospects could be combined to work in a package for Walker and give the Crew the starting first baseman they need right now.
Walker, who is 29 and hits right-handed, had a fantastic season in 2019, taking over for former franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt. He hit 29 home runs, had a 111 OPS+, and a .348 on-base %. He was also very solid in the 2020 abbreviated season, putting up comparable numbers, despite the D-backs having a disappointing season as a collective.
The only other first baseman projected to be on the Brewers roster is Daniel Vogelbach, who bats left-handed, so Walker would be a good compliment to him. Additionally, Vogelbach’s defensive limitations and streaky hitting make him better suited for a platoon/DH role than a full-time first baseman.
As for the return going back to Arizona, amazingly, there are currently SIX catchers on the Brewers’ 40-man roster, and Payton Henry isn’t one of them. Combine this with the fact that the organization’s fourth-ranked prospect, Mario Feliciano, plays catcher as well, and it is clear that Payton Henry has a better shot at consistent playing time in Arizona. The Brewers could unload Henry or one of their current catchers to clear the logjam.
Gray, a 20-year-old former second round draft pick, is known for his quick bat, natural power, and strong arm in the outfield. Injuries have caused him to be stuck in Rookie ball since being drafted out of high school in 2018, but he could have enough upside for the Diamondbacks to be interested in his services down the road.
There are other scenarios to hypothesize about between the Brewers and D-backs as well. Perhaps the Brewers would be interested in aforementioned 1B prospect Seth Beer rather than Walker. With a last name like “Beer”, he might just be destined to play in Milwaukee.
Brewers fans are getting antsy waiting for David Stearns to start getting the ball rolling on improving the team, and acquiring Christian Walker in a trade like this one would signal they are serious about trying to win an NL Central that is looking increasingly up for grabs.
Arizona has a bunch of corner infield options and the Brewers don’t. Because of that, they make some sense as a trade partner.