Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2017
BY DAN ZIELINSKI
Players report to spring training in just over a month and don’t be surprised if Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns makes a flurry of moves by mid-February.
Last year, Stearns made two major deals right before spring training, dealing shortstop Jean Segura to Arizona on Jan. 30 and left fielder Khris Davis to Oakland on Feb. 12.
Could Stearns make headlines once again this year?
Besides acquiring bullpen help, trading Ryan Braun is another move the Brewers should make within the next month. Braun’s name has been mentioned in trade talks since last season, when the Los Angeles Dodgers were close to acquiring the veteran outfielder on two separate occasions.
With the Dodgers chances of acquiring Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier dead, it could open the door for the Dodgers to trade for Braun.
Here’s a deal that would make sense for the Brewers and Dodgers, featuring Braun as the centerpiece of the Dodgers’ return:
Los Angeles Dodgers receive: OF Ryan Braun, 2B Scooter Gennett
Braun, 33, is still an elite player, finishing the 2016 season hitting .305 with 30 home runs, 91 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. But, he hasn’t played in over 140 games since 2012 and is owed $76 million over the next four years.
These two factors, along with his PED history, don’t help Braun’s trade value. However, he’d give the Dodgers a right-handed power bat, which is something they are desperately needing.
With the Dodgers back at square one in their search for a second baseman, Scooter Gennett is an affordable option who had a productive 2016 season, hitting .263 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs. Gennett will make $2.525 million in 2017 and isn’t eligible for free agency until 2020.
Milwaukee Brewers receive: OF Yasiel Puig, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Imani Abdullah, 1B Edwin Rios
The Brewers are deep with outfielders at the major league level and in their farm system, but none of those players have the potential Yasiel Puig possesses. Puig’s production has dropped off since 2013 when he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, hitting .319 with 19 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games. But, Puig has five-tool potential and is still just 26 years old.
Signed through 2018 at a total of $17.43 million and not eligible for free agency until 2020, the Brewers could acquire Puig and use him as future trade bait or as a piece for the future.
With two years, $23 million remaining on his contract, Brandon McCarthy would give the Brewers a veteran leader in their rotation and a potential trade chip.
McCarthy, 33, underwent Tommy John surgery in early 2015 and has only pitched 63 innings the last two years. Over his 11-year career, the right-hander has been an effective mid-rotation starter, posting a career 4.17 ERA and 1.292 WHIP.
Besides acquiring two major league players, the Brewers would also receive two prospects.
Right-hander Imani Abdullah is the Dodgers 16th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, possessing a mid-90s fastball with an average curveball and changeup. Only 19 years old, Abdullah has performed well in his brief pro career. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound hurler spent all of 2016 at Class A, posting a 3.61 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 12 walks in 72 1/3 innings (16 starts).
Edwin Rios is a left-handed hitting first baseman who is known for his power. Ranked as the Dodgers 26th-best prospect by MLB.com, Rios hit .301 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs in 108 games between Class A, Class A-Advanced and Double A last season.
Final thoughts: With the Brewers in rebuilding mode, and the Dodgers searching for a second baseman and a right-handed power bat after their lineup struggled against left-handed pitching last season, this deal makes sense for both teams. While this deal is risky for both sides, it could help each team inch closer to their goal of building a championship contender.