For most of the first part of the season, third base looked like one of the most glaring needs for the Milwaukee Brewers to address on this roster. However, they sort of have addressed the position similar to how they addressed first base this offseason: By acquiring an up-the-middle player and moving someone else to the area of need.
This offseason, the Brewers needed a first baseman, so they signed Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong and moved incumbent second baseman Keston Hiura to first base. The addition of Wong has worked out, but Hiura at first base has not.
Meanwhile, on the left side of the infield, third base was an area of need as Travis Shaw was struggling at the plate and Luis Urias was having some issues at shortstop. Then the Brewers added a shortstop in Willy Adames. Shortly after, Shaw got hurt and Urias took over the everyday third base job.
Since the Adames trade, Urias has hit .255 with a .796 OPS, 10 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs. Before the trade, Urias was hitting just .205 with a .676 OPS and just four home runs.
While Luis Urias has been playing better and is a productive third baseman, the Milwaukee Brewers are still looking for upgrades at the 2021 Trade Deadline.
According to Fansided’s Robert Murray’s latest notes column, the Brewers are keeping their options open at third base and could look to make an addition.
Travis Shaw is slated to come off the IL relatively soon, which could help, but Shaw wasn’t hitting too well before his injury and was on the verge of losing his everyday job. Urias has done well, but hasn’t been overwhelmingly spectacular enough to prevent Milwaukee’s front office from looking at potential upgrades.
Eduardo Escobar of the Diamondbacks is the most obvious trade target at third base. He’s a free agent at the end of the year, isn’t owed a large amount of money, and brings plenty of power to the position.
Escobar is hitting .248 with 22 home runs and a 108 OPS+ this season for Arizona. He’d instantly become the Crew’s top power threat and has added value as a switch hitter.
There’s also Trevor Story, who is a shortstop but can play third base. Milwaukee could also try him out in the outfield. Story, like Escobar, is a rental. Although as a star player, Story will cost a little more to acquire. He isn’t having the best season for Colorado this year, but he’s put up some gaudy numbers before.
Some other notes of interest from Robert Murray’s column include a quote from a high ranking Brewers executive:
"“We are close to being a legit contender,” one high-ranking Brewers executive said. “If we can add some valuable pieces, we could legitimately win this thing.”"
“We could legitimately win this”. Even back in 2018, there weren’t too many quotes like this floating around about the Milwaukee Brewers at this time of the year. They got hot towards the end of the season, but with their weak rotation that year, they weren’t believed to be the true “best team on the field”.
In 2021, the Brewers have an electric starting rotation, led by Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. All those guys were relievers for the most part in that stretch in 2018 as they were rookies. Now, they have a lot more big league experience under their belts. It’s the pitching that makes this team dangerous in October.
But what would make them legit contenders to win it all, is an improved offense to go along with that strong rotation. Being strong in all three facets of the game, pitching, hitting, and defense, makes them a well rounded threat to win it all. They have the pitching and defense already. Now all they need is the hitting.
An addition at first base does make a lot more sense, but there aren’t many options out there at that position and third base is a little more fruitful. We’ll see what Stearns does over the next few days.