The National League Central division has been active early on this offseason. St. Louis has signed three starting pitchers, Cincinnati has added two free agent pitchers, and Milwaukee is on the brink of signing a historic contract with top prospect Jackson Chourio.
Even with early activity all three of these teams are not done making moves, especially in the starting pitching department. St. Louis and Cincinnati have been rumored to be involved in trade discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays for Tyler Glasnow as well as Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians.
While not confirmed, hopefully the Brewers are also exploring ways to improve upon their starting rotation. With Brandon Woodruff and Wade Miley departing, the current presumed starters include Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Colin Rea, and Adrian Houser. Even with Robert Gasser, Carlos Rodriguez, and Jacob Misiorowski near MLB ready adding in more experienced arms would be wise from both a quality and depth perspective.
One team the Brewers could turn to as a trade partner was mentioned above and that is the Guardians.
Three reasons why the Milwaukee Brewers should and should not trade for Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians.
3 reasons why the Milwaukee Brewers should trade for Shane Bieber
One obvious reason why Milwaukee should pursue Shane Bieber is the fact that they need to replace some of the production that was lost when Brandon Woodruff and Wade Miley departed. A reunion with Wade Miley could still occur, but is unlikely with Brandon Woodruff. Shane Bieber, similar to Brandon Woodruff, has one year of team control remaining and a projected arbitration salary in the $11-12 million range. He's a former Cy Young award winner with a multiple year history of being a top of the rotation starter, so trading for him would essentially be one way to "replace" Brandon Woodruff.
The second thing going Milwaukee's way in regards to a potential trade is that Shane Bieber's trade value is currently at it's lowest. Bieber has just one year of team control remaining, he is coming off his worst season since his rookie year in 2018, and he has an injury history that limited him to just 16 starts in 2021 and 21 starts in 2023. Acquiring him won't cost the haul that you might think for a pitcher of his caliber because of that.
Thirdly, Cleveland does have a history of dealing players before they reach free agency, which means they may be motivated to make a deal. Francisco Lindor is the latest example of when the Guardians traded a player before reaching free agency in which in combination with dealing Carlos Carrasco they received six prospects in return.
3 reasons why the Milwaukee Brewers should not trade for Shane Bieber
One reason why Milwaukee may shy away from a deal involving Shane Bieber is the fact that they would still have to pay his 2024 salary. His projected salary is similar to what Brandon Woodruff would have been owed, so in theory there shouldn't be any concerns regarding this but if the Brewers are heading into a mini-rebuild, they may not be willing to pay a veteran that amount during a season where expectations are dampened. Bieber missing some time with injury recently also makes the thought of paying that salary a possible roadblock for the Brewers.
Branching off of that, the second reason is if Milwaukee is looking to re-tool in 2024 and compete in 2025, the fact that Shane Bieber has only one year of team control left would work against reasons to trade for him.
The third reason is that a deal may require them to trade away prospects from the next wave of upcoming major league players, in which Brewers prospects currently carry lots of value because of the strength of the farm system.
Ultimately the Brewers decision to pursue a trade with Shane Bieber or not likely highly depends upon which direction the team wants to go in 2024. If they are looking to compete a deal makes sense. Additionally, they may be better off trading for a pitcher of Bieber's caliber as opposed to overpaying for a free agent in which their market has skyrocketed this off-season.