Since the Brewers began making perennial playoff appearances starting in 2018, the team has been at least somewhat active around the MLB trade deadline. One area you can pretty much always count on the team addressing at that time is the bullpen.
From Joakim Soria in 2018 to Daniel Norris and John Curtiss last year, plenty of relievers have started donning Milwaukee threads around the deadline. And there’s a good chance that trend continues in 2022.
Yes, there’s a good chance that the Brewers get a few relievers back from the injured list in the coming weeks to give a boost to the bullpen. But it’s hard to know if they’ll look fully like themselves, plus it never hurts to add depth in general.
Should president of baseball operations David Stearns want to do that, perhaps he only needs to look just down I-94 at the team’s main rivals, the Chicago Cubs. Though they may be reluctant to trade with an opponent from within the division, they will be sellers at the deadline and need to sell off assets no matter who they go to.
Here are two Cubs relief pitchers that the Brewers could target at the trade deadline.
1. RHP David Robertson
37-year-old relievers, or 37-year-old players at any position for that matter, aren’t generally a part of any team’s rebuilding plans. So, it’s no surprise that Cubs closer David Robertson is assumed to be a target for buyers at the trade deadline.
Even with the age of 40 starting to creep up on the horizon, Robertson has been excellent as a closer for the Cubs in 2022. In 39.1 innings, he has a 1.83 ERA and a 0.992 WHIP and is 14-for-19 in save attempts. Batters are hitting just .147 against him this year.
Even at his age, Robertson isn’t losing velocity as his fastball still sits in the mid-90s. And while he has thrown a more diverse mix of pitches in the past, he mixes it with just a slider and curveball these days, still a very effective pitch mix for a high-leverage reliever.
Having played a bunch of close games this year, the Brewers have at times found themselves without one of their high-leverage trio of Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader due to workload. Adding a player like Robertson to the bullpen would give the Crew another option should situations like that pop up again later in the season.
2. RHP Mychal Givens
If the Brewers want another high-leverage option with a little less mileage on the tires, they could take a look at Robertson’s bullpen mate, Mychal Givens. At 32 years old, there’s a good chance he’s also available as a trade target from the Cubs.
Givens has had a fine year in his own right for Chicago in 2022, pitching to the tune of a 2.72 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, and .215 batting average against in 39.2 innings this season. 31.2 of those innings have come in the seventh and eighth innings.
That matches up with the rest of his career as over 87% of the innings he has pitched in his eight-year career have come in the seventh inning or later. He has been good as a late inning reliever too as he has only had a season ERA over 4.00 in one season in his career (2019).
One difference between the two that could come into play is contract status. While Robertson is a true rental who becomes a free agent at the end of the year, Givens has a mutual option for 2023 that comes with a $1.5MM buyout. That’s not a ton of money, but it’s still something worth considering.
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It’s hard to know whether the Brewers will bring in a reliever at the deadline or count on some of the returning guys from injury. All we know is that history says that the chances they trade for a bullpen addition are good.