Five days remain between now and the 2022 MLB trade deadline for the Milwaukee Brewers. The team hasn’t made any trades just yet, but the first big domino has now fallen in the league, so further moves could be right around the corner.
Last night, the New York Yankees completed a trade with the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Andrew Benintendi. That took a potential target off the board for Milwaukee, who were reportedly in the mix for him.
Benintendi would have likely given a nice offensive boost to the Brewers, but these days he really only plays in left field, a position where the Crew have actually gotten decent production. Where they could really use some help would be in center field.
The Brewers have primarily utilized Lorenzo Cain, who has since been designated for assignment, Tyrone Taylor, and Jonathan Davis, who might not even be with the team by the time the deadline has passed. The result to this point has been a .211 batting average that ranks 24th in MLB and a .575 OPS that ranks 27th.
There aren’t many major trade options out there for center field who will actually be available at the deadline. But perhaps one of Benintendi’s now former teammates could be a specific fit for Milwaukee’s offensive (and defensive) needs.
Acquiring center fielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals before the MLB trade deadline could make some sense for the Brewers.
Michael A. Taylor was a 6th round pick by the Washington Nationals out of high school back in 2009. He ended up playing for seven seasons in D.C. before becoming a free agent ahead of the 2021 season.
He would end up being signed to a one-year contract by the Royals that offseason and play a career high 142 games with them that year. While his numbers were average at the plate at best (.244 average, .653 OPS), he would earn his first career Gold Glove award in the field, causing Kansas City to decide to bring him back for 2022, this time on a two-year deal.
That move worked out well for the Royals as Taylor is in the midst of the best offensive season of his career. He is so far setting career highs in average (.279), on base percentage (.350), OPS (.752), OPS+ (112), and wRC+ (114). His strikeout rate (22.9%) and walk rate (9.7%) are also the lowest and highest marks of his career, respectively.
He actually profiles similarly to Ramon Laureano of the A’s, who we looked at previously as a possible trade deadline target. In fact, they sit right next to each other in fWAR on the season, Laureano at 1.2 and Taylor at 1.1, having played the exact same number of games at 70.
The worry with Taylor is whether or not his 2022 offensive season is a mirage or whether he could see regression. Laureano has never seen his OPS dip below .700 for a season (though he’s getting close at .701 right now) whereas Taylor has been all over the board across his career.
However, if the Brewers think his offense is sustainable, then Taylor might make more sense for them. And being three years older at the age of 31, he would likely cost much less to acquire than Laureano.
Taylor also is only under control through next year (versus 2024 for Laureano pending a non-tender), so if the Milwaukee wants to hand over the center field reigns to an up-and-coming prospect like Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick, or even Joey Wiemer, they could do that much more easily with a move for Taylor.
Perhaps most importantly in Milwaukee’s eyes, he would bring the required defense necessary to man center for the Crew. Taylor currently sits second among all MLB center fielders with seven defensive runs saved.
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It might not be the sexy move Brewers fans would like, but not all trade deadline deals are. Still, a trade for Taylor could make a lot of sense.