The Milwaukee Brewers are facing one of the worst-performing teams in baseball this weekend, the Arizona Diamondbacks. They will likely be sellers at the trade deadline. Is there anyone on this roster the Brewers should look to buy in July?
Although there’s been some underperformance issues, the Brewers are expected to be buyers at the July trade deadline. The Diamondbacks will be sellers. They come into this series with a record of 20-37 and are 15 games back in the NL West.
With a sell-off on the way, there are a few players that Brewers fans should watch closely on the Diamondbacks because they may end up being Brewers in just a few weeks.
Escobar is a free agent at the end of the year, his season salary of $7.6MM is not an exorbitant amount and by the time the Brewers would get him, the money the Brewers have to pay him would be less than half of that.
While Escobar hasn’t been a world-beater this year offensively, with a .239 average and a .742 OPS, he’d be an upgrade over the production the Brewers are currently getting at third base. He brings plenty of power and is a switch hitter.
His 13 home runs on the season would lead the Brewers right now if he was on the team. Keep an eye on Escobar as the Brewers current third base situation unfolds.
On the other side of the infield, the Brewers have a first base problem as well. Keston Hiura has struggled since his return from a trip to the minors to figure out his earlier struggles. Daniel Vogelbach hasn’t been able to seize playing time either.
As much as there’s been turnover at shortstop in the past few years, the turnover has been worse at first base. There’s been a different Opening Day starter at first base every year since 2011 when Prince Fielder left. The turnover has been high and the production has been fairly low.
Enter Christian Walker. Walker has three more years of team control, potentially giving the Brewers a solution at first base through 2024.
Walker’s offensive numbers have been down this year, which can be said for a lot of hitters, but there’s a few key points of positivity that could mean a progression to the mean. First, his strikeout rate has remained steady. Despite the increase in punchouts across the league, Walker has a 20.9% K rate in 2021, which is close to his 20.5% K rate in 2020 and down from his 25.7% K rate in 2019 when he took over the starting 1B job in Arizona.
Also, Walker has a career Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) of .300, and this year his BABIP is down at just .246. He’s been unlucky, and that could turn at any moment.
He’s down to a platoon role right now for Arizona as Pavin Smith has earned some playing time. If Keston Hiura doesn’t get things figured out by the deadline, Walker could be a good addition to platoon with Daniel Vogelbach or take the starting job outright if his bat gets going by then.
Taylor Clarke is one of Arizona’s set up guys in the bullpen. In his third season in the big leagues, Clarke has a 4.18 ERA but a 3.57 expected ERA and a 3.71 FIP. He gets lots of ground balls, which should help lead to more success with the Brewers given their strong infield defense.
Clarke has cut down on home runs allowed, has cut down on the walks, and his average fastball velocity is up this year to 95.6 MPH.
The Brewers are light on set-up relievers after trading away J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to fix the shortstop position. Adding someone like Clarke, who is young, has improving velocity, minor league options, and years of team control, is something the Brewers should be interested in.
Will Arizona be willing to trade him? Maybe, maybe not. But Milwaukee does need bullpen help and Clarke is one of the better performing options in that Arizona bullpen that makes some sense for the Brewers to pursue.
The Brewers will likely see all of these players up close during their series against the Diamondbacks this weekend. Fans should keep their eyes on these players as well.