The Milwaukee Brewers rivals, the Chicago Cubs, are beginning a fire sale. They are admitting defeat on the 2020 season and are selling off their pieces.
Should the Milwaukee Brewers get in on the Cubs fire sale? Over the past few years the Cubs have had several good players on their roster, but things just haven’t meshed well for them. Perhaps the Brewers can grab a piece or two for their World Series push.
Let’s make one thing clear right off the bat: The Brewers will not acquire Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo. It just will not happen. They may fit positions of need but the Cubs will not trade a superstar level talent to their rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers. Both of those guys have been the faces of the franchise for years and the last thing Chicago will do is trade them to Milwaukee, even for a huge prospect haul, which the Brewers don’t really have at their disposal.
With that said, here are three Chicago Cubs trade chips the Milwaukee Brewers could target at the MLB trade deadline.
Brewers Cubs trade target #1: Andrew Chafin, LHP
The Brewers could use some bullpen help and the Cubs have several solid relievers. Andrew Chafin has had an excellent season on the North Side, posting a 1.42 ERA in 38 IP in the first half.
He operates mostly in the eighth inning for the Cubs but could be the bridge to Devin Williams and Josh Hader for the Milwaukee Brewers. Depth for the Brewers bullpen has been up and down all season, as the Brewers acquire one or two relievers and then send another one or two out in another trade. Since the Willy Adames trade, it’s been clear the Brewers will need to add another bullpen arm at the deadline.
Chafin had several solid, but not really spectacular seasons in Arizona in his career. This is his first full season with the Cubs and he’s done extremely well. He’s cut down on walks, allowing just 2.37 BB/9. Chafin gets ground balls over 50% of the time and has allowed hard contact on just 31.2% of batted balls.
One concerning statistic is that Chafin is benefitting from a .185 opponent batting average on balls in play (BABIP). His career BABIP is .295, so he’s likely due to have some regression to the mean in the second half. Chafin’s success this year isn’t entirely the product of luck, but good luck has played a factor.
Chafin has a mutual option for 2022 at $5.25MM with a $500k buyout. The Brewers would be able to keep him if they like or let him go with just a half a million dollar buyout.
Brewers Cubs trade target #2: Dan Winkler, RHP
Another Cubs bullpen arm that could be available is Dan Winkler. He’s a free agent at the end of the year, is a depth bullpen arm, and could be acquired for relatively cheap, even with the “in-division tax” if there is one for Dan Winkler.
He’s having a solid season out of the Cubs bullpen, posting a 2.32 ERA in 31 IP in the first half. Winkler isn’t as good as Chafin, and would be more of a depth piece, probably in the “B” group of the bullpen, rather than an “A” group arm to lock down victories.
That’s because Winkler is suffering from a 5.2 BB/9 and 13.1% walk percentage. He’s given up a lot of free passes and that will need to be cut down if he’s going to get higher leverage innings.
However, 90.7% of baserunners get left on base by Winkler, so even though he’s allowing free passes, he hasn’t allowed them to score. It’s playing with fire, but if the Brewers can get him to cut down on those walks a little bit, he could be a solid addition.
Brewers Cubs trade target #3: Zach Davies, RHP
Sure, why not?
Milwaukee traded Davies to San Diego in 2019 to get Luis Urias and Eric Lauer, but then the Padres sent him to Chicago for Yu Darvish. Davies isn’t having a spectacular season so far, but he could be a nice depth addition to the rotation.
The Brewers rotation doesn’t exactly need an addition at the moment, and Lauer has been solid in the 6th starter role. But just because it may not look like the rotation is a need doesn’t mean the Brewers won’t address it. David Stearns has done things like that before.
Davies had success in Milwaukee in the past and perhaps he could again. His walk rate is up this year (must be something in the water with Chicago), but that’s probably something correctable.
He’s a free agent at the end of the year and, again, wouldn’t cost much to acquire. You can never have too much pitching and even though they don’t necessarily need another starting pitcher, having one in case of injury isn’t a horrible idea.
Of these three Cubs trade chips, Chafin makes the most sense for the Brewers, but we’ll see if anything happens between these two bitter rivals.