By Nathan Petrashek
With the trade deadline looming on Friday, the Brewers, owners of a woeful 43-57 record and currently residing in the cellar of the NL Central, have made only one trade. To the Brewers’ credit, that trade involved Aramis Ramirez, a player I figured the team would have a tough time moving since he’s battled injuries in recent years, has an obviously declining skill set, and has announced his retirement at the end of the year. So kudos to the Brewers for getting at least Yhonathan Barrios back in return, a pitcher nee infielder who is extremely raw but was closing games somewhat effectively for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate.
Still, as we approach the deadline, I can’t help but wonder whether the team could be doing more to shop players that clearly will not be essential to the team’s future success. Chief among those players is Gerrardo Parra, a left-handed gold-glove outfielder having a career year who will be a free agent at year’s end. Carlos Gomez, the gold-glove centerfielder and (despite last night’s result) constant threat on the basepaths is as good as gone after next year, and would presumably be worth more to many teams because he is more as a short-term rental. There’s Adam Lind, who has routinely crushed right-handed pitching this season, and Francisco Rodriguez, who has a 1.54 ERA and has converted 22 out of 22 save chances. The Brewers actually have a lot of tradeable assets, record notwithstanding.
To be clear: I’m not upset these players haven’t been traded yet. The dominoes really just started to fall for the trade market last week when Athletics ace Scott Kazmir was traded to Houston. There’s still more than three days until the deadline, and the Brewers no doubt want the best offers they can possibly get. My concern, rather, is that the front office might be pricing themselves right out of the trade market for certain players. The latest word is that the team “doesn’t seem especially eager” to trade Carlos Gomez, and will have to be blown away by any trade offer. That’s a fine position to take publicly, particularly when Gomez has been injured for part of this season. But if this is also the sentiment privately circulating around 1 Brewers Way, I wonder whether the team might be overplaying its hand a bit.
Gomez would certainly require a premium prospect or two, but that’s not the return to expect for many of the players named above. In fact, the Brewers could use as many lottery tickets as possible in the farm system at the moment if they’re eyeing a competitive window opening in 2-4 years. I’m not saying they should give Parra, or Rodriguez, or Lind away, but I definitely would not set the bar too high for a trade of any of those players. If no team offers prospects the Brewers like, that’s one thing; but it’s another to value your players so much that you don’t feel a reasonable offer is “enough.” Hopefully I’m being clear, which is difficult with this level of abstraction: for the Brewers, something is better than nothing.