I was quietly hoping the Milwaukee Brewers would make a move or two before Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but alas, even shouting about it would’ve done no good. GM Doug Melvin was fairly transparent that he was ‘not motivated’ to make a deal unless it couldn’t be refused, and player performance, particularly that of Yovani Gallardo, helped ensure he wouldn’t receive much motivation from other clubs in discussions. I was hoping a guy like Michael Gonzalez or John Axford would be moved, however unlikely it appeared. Gonzalez will be a free agent after this year, as far as I can tell, and Axford, while under control until 2017, is getting mighty expensive in arbitration after being paid a cool $5MM this year. If the Ax-Man were still a closer it might be justifiable, but with big Jim Henderson clearly capable of handling the Brewers’ save chances, Axford is just a really expensive middle reliever. A non-contending club doesn’t need two closers, and Axford is getting paid as if he was still putting up massive save numbers. The Brewers just have no reason to keep that salary around at this point, even if Axford is a special guy with a special place in franchise history. A rebuilding/reloading club like the Brewers, who are bound to lose money this year if they lost money last year, should go light on the overpaid relievers side of things. Cut that weight for something that could be stashed in the minor leagues, like a prospect, perhaps? Apparently not.
There is still the August waiver period, of course. Guys with bloated contracts like Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks could be moved in August, however unlikely. I liked the rumblings I heard over the last couple days about Kansas City’s interest in Weeks. I think he’d be a good fit there; i.e., he would get a new start somewhere else, which is what I think is best for the player and the Brewers. If the Brewers could get something useful back and maybe have KC pick up a tiny portion of that contract, it’d be worth it. Just plug Scooter in at second base. Done.
I’ve heard that the free agent market for pitching this coming offseason may be the barest in a decade. Who knows how accurate that is, but if it trends that way then it’s easier to understand why Melvin didn’t flip Lohse….yet. Depending on how things shake out, Lohse could be traded for better value during the winter when more teams are looking for pitching. Perhaps YoGo might even have some value back by then. As for Tom Gorzelanny, the Brewers signed him to a very reasonable deal this past offseason, and considering that the Brewers appear to be very reluctant to sign free agent starters, I’d expect ol’ Tom to be the Brewers #3-4 starter next year. Look at what the Padres did: they got starter Ian Kennedy from the division-rival D-Backs for two relievers and a compensation draft pick! Kennedy’s making some money but won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season. The Brewers surely could’ve looked into that trade scenario, couldn’t they have? What if the Crew had sent Axford, Gonzalez and a compensation draft pick for Kennedy…I can’t say I would be too disappointed with that transaction.
Oh well. I know Melvin likes to work on trades and such during the offseason, when the big bad clock isn’t ticking at him. But still, when the Brewers absolutely bombed in May, I was thinking: ‘Hey, at least it’ll be a whale of a fun time at the trade deadline!’ I guess Brewers fans will have to be patient and tolerant of a quiet deadline here at the end of July, and hope that, maybe, the Brewers are able to give the organizational depth a boost via August waiver trades. Otherwise it will be a long winter as we wonder what on earth the club will be cooking in that ‘war room’ of theirs.
Keep your eyes open, Doug.