Multiple reports and confirmations (including one by the Brewers) have come out this early Sunday afternoon which have the Milwaukee Brewers trading RHP Marco Estrada away.
Estrada, 31, gave up a league high 29 home runs in 2014 splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen. He was much more effective as a relief pitcher in 2014, something that’s a bit of a disconnect from earlier in his career. Estrada was originally acquired by the Brewers off of waivers from the Washington Nationals after the 2009 season. Estrada made $3.325 million in 2014 and in his upcoming third time being arbitration eligible, he was set to receive a significant enough raise that he may have ended up as a non-tender candidate. That’s because the Brewers didn’t have a spot for him in the starting rotation where he’s a bargain. He’s quite pricey as a long-reliever.
He will finish his Brewers career with a 23-25 record in 139 games (70 starts). He’s amassed a 4.11 ERA in 521.0 innings pitched.
Doug Melvin struck a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, who he has dealt with in the past. In return, the Brewers have acquired 1B Adam Lind.
Lind, also 31, has had an up-and-down career in Toronto, the only organization he’s known as a professional since being drafted in the 3rd round of 2004. Lind debuted as a 22-year-old in 2006.
In 2014, Lind spent some time in the minor leagues to get his groove back, more or less. In his 96 games on Toronto’s roster, Lind slashed .321/.381/.479 in 318 plate appearances. That includes an incredibly hefty platoon split though. In 2014 he his .354/.409/.533 against right-handed pitching (which is the majority as we all know) but an incredibly different .061/.161/.061 in 37 plate appearances. That’s four walks, just two hits (both singles), and 11 strikeouts.
The Brewers are hardly strangers to platooning. They carried season-long platoon at both first and second base last season and due to some injury concerns, they basically played with one in left field down the stretch as well. They might be committing to Scooter Gennett full-time at the keystone in 2015 (though I think they’ll wind up in a soft platoon at best), so it would allow them room to have another first base platoon next season. Looking at the numbers, they almost have to. New hitting coach Darnell Coles can only do so much, after all.
Lind will makes $7.5 million in 2015. His contract carries a 2016 option as well valued at $8 million with a $500 thousand buyout.
I wanted to give you a little something extra today as it relates to the newest Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Broxton, so I reached out to his agent, BB Abbott, for a couple of quick questions to gauge how the big right-hander has taken to the news.
The first thing I asked Mr. Abbott was when they learned about the waiver claim and that the trade had been agreed to. Abbott told me that they “just found out today” when the Reds “brought Jonathan into the office and told him about 1:30 (eastern time).”
I then asked about how Broxton was taking to the news of being traded at all, and specifically to Milwaukee given their position relative to Cincinnati’s. Abbott said that Broxton was “surprised to get traded in the middle of a long-term deal”, mentioning how a player kind of puts down roots in those kinds of situations. But as it set in, Abbott said that Broxton “has realized it’ll be a good spot for him.” He said that Broxton is understandably “excited” to be joining a pennant race and “respects the organization” a great deal given their history on the field over the years.
Finally, I asked Abbott about 2015 and whether that was a thought yet for Broxton. Abbott admitted that being in the closer’s mix makes sense but assured me that Broxton’s “focus is to [join the team] and help the Brewers in any way that they want.” Abbott also stated that Broxton “certainly hasn’t looked past this year and helping the [Brewers].”
BB Abbott is a licensed athlete agent and MLBPA certified baseball agent living in Tampa, FL. He works for Jet Sports Management. He also represents a pair of Brewers prospects, pitcher David Goforth and 2012 Organizational Minor League Player of the Year, Hunter Morris.
Because sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
The official release reads like this:
SAN FRANCISCO – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed reliever Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for two players to be named. Broxton, who is eligible for the Brewers’ postseason roster, will join the team tomorrow in Chicago. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Broxton, 30, is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 7 saves in 51 appearances this season. Opponents are batting just .190 (32-for-168, 3hr). He has pitched for Los Angeles (2005-11), Kansas City (2012) and Cincinnati (2012-14) during his 10-year career, going 35-29 with a 3.05 ERA and 118 saves in 531 appearances, all in relief.
Even as far back as July, Doug Melvin wasn’t shy about his desire to obtain another bullpen pitcher, preferably one:
- with closing experience
- who throws right-handed
- has some giddy up on his fastball
So how did this come about? The Reds posted Broxton to revocable waivers and the Brewers put in the winning claim. They had until 1:00pm ET today to work out a trade. They did so and the deal was announced by the Brewers at 12:46pm CT. Typically with players to be named later, the two teams agree upon a list of players who are eligible to be chosen to complete the trade and the acquiring team is given some time to scout them and make their decisions. Sometimes the players are already agreed to but need to be called “to be named later” for various reasons. In this case, it appears to be one of both as Reds GM Walt Jocketty has told reporters that the teams have agreed to one player and have a list for choosing the other. Regardless, a pair of prospects will be headed to the Reds by the end of September. The price won’t be super cheap because Broxton is under contract already for 2015, and there’s value in cost certainty. More on that later.
In trading for Broxton, the Brewers are adding a missing element to their 2014 bullpen. They have lacked an experienced, power righty to match up late in games, probably slot in as the primary set up man, and provide additional confidence for manager Ron Roenicke on days where Francisco Rodriguez can’t or shouldn’t be used in save situations. You can see Broxton’s stats above, and they certainly look quite desirable for a team in the Brewers’ situation.
As several of you decided was worth pointing out on Twitter, this trade doesn’t help the lineup or bench. With comments from “tell him to bring a bat” to “this is no help…he can’t hit”, once again people have decided to miss the forest for the trees. Just because Broxton can’t help the Brewers at the plate doesn’t mean that it’s a deal that shouldn’t have been made. It’s still a big immediate help for the Brewers.
Anyway, welcome to “later”. Broxton’s arm will help in 2014 but he’s also under contract for 2015 and as I said right away on Twitter, he’ll be in the mix come February to close for the Brewers in 2015. He’s owed $9 million in 2015, which is a lot but not undoable, as well as a $9 million mutual option for 2016 with a $2 million buyout. So, the Brewers will be paying Broxton some quality coin over a minimum of the next 15 months or so, but it could certainly be worth it if all goes according to plan.
The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a pair of minor-league prospects; outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda.
Parra is expected to join the team tomorrow in St. Louis.
The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. “The addition of Parra gives us a veteran player who helps to balance our lineup and also brings Gold Glove defense,” said Melvin. Parra, 27, is batting .259 with 6 HR and 30 RBI in 104 games this season. He has made 98 starts (96g in RF, 2g in CF).
Signing as a non-drafted free agent on 8/30/04, Parra had spent his entire professional career in the Diamondbacks organization. He is a career .274 hitter with 39 HR and 250 RBI in 787 Major League games (2009-14). Known for his exceptional defense, Parra has won National League Gold Glove Awards in left field (2011) and right field (2013). Entering today, his 62 outfield assists since 2009 were tied for second (with two others) in the Major Leagues, trailing only the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (63).
To make room for Parra on the 25-man roster, outfielder Logan Schafer will be optioned to Triple-A Nashville. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Tyler Thornburg was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Haniger, 24, was selected by the Brewers in the supplemental first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He batted .255 with 10 HR and 34 RBI in 67 games at Double-A Huntsville this season.
Banda, 20, was selected by the Brewers in the 10th round of the 2012 draft. He was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA and 2 saves in 20 games (14 starts) at Class-A Wisconsin this season.
I woke up this morning to a text message saying that the Brewers met with the Atlanta Braves last night. Despite the previous talk this off-season about the Braves coveting Kyle Lohse, the part of the conversation I was alerted to dealt with another Brewer. That’s not to say there wasn’t more and differing topics on the table, but I was just told what I was told.
Then, later in the morning the same player was brought up in that the Brewers were discussing him with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The player in question is second baseman Rickie Weeks.
The Braves conversation was just that. The sides talked. No word on whether they made progress toward anything.
The conversation with the Blue Jays, however, got a little more specific. I was told that there was a trade discussion centering around Weeks and 1B Adam Lind. While I worked on corroborating that, a Twitter follower let me know that something similar was discussed on Canadian radio. That seemed to puff up to a three-team deal with Lind still coming to Milwaukee but Weeks heading to Kansas City and Billy Butler moving north of the border.
The Weeks part of that equation does make sense. If you recall the Royals expressed some interest in acquiring Weeks during this past season. Also, Ned Yost still manages in K.C. and we all know his affinity for Weeks.
This afternoon though, I was told that currently nothing is building with Toronto as they are reportedly posting a high asking price. To me that sounds like Toronto wants more than just a straight up swap, whether that be two-way or three.
Still, it’s telling that there would be conversations about the veteran second baseman during the Winter Meetings. It may not lead to a deal before the Brewers report to Maryvale, but as they say: feeding your grass before the snow falls often yields a lush lawn come springtime.
As I was sitting here writing up my Day 1 recap of the Winter Meetings, my phone buzzed.
What it said when I checked it was that the Brewers are progressing down one road thereby forcing the issue on another front burner topic.
As reported by more than a couple of people earlier today, representatives of the Milwaukee Brewers did touch base with the representatives of the New York Mets. Here’s where things are:
The Brewers are one of two teams “left standing” (as it was worded to me) in talks with the Mets to potentially acquire 1B Ike Davis in trade. Despite pressure on my part for additional information (Who is the other team? What’s on the table for Davis?), those details weren’t offered in return.
This means the following things to me in regards to Corey Hart and the position of first base for the Brewers in 2014:
- They have prioritized the position, not just the player.
- They want a decision from Hart soon. This is what I’ve been touting as “leverage” against the player. You can’t simply let Hart sit and play teams off of each other for a week or more driving up prices.
- They wouldn’t have gotten as far down the road on acquiring Ike Davis as it sounds like they are unless they viewed him as a viable alternative should they be spurned by Hart.
To my source, it feels like it’s nearing “(crap) or get off the pot” time for Corey Hart with concern to the Milwaukee Brewers.
In my opinion, the Brewers prefer Hart to return over importing a different player, however they aren’t going to held over the coals either. There are some advantages to Davis though. He’s controllable, six years younger than Hart, cheaper, and could be a bounce back candidate coming off of such a poor season that he was demoted to Triple-A at one point.
You can expect a little push back from Hart’s people as they work to field all of the offers that they want to, but Doug Melvin and the Brewers simply cannot go into 2014 with the same kinds of questions at first base that presented themselves once Hart, Mat Gamel, and Taylor Green all succumbed to season-ending injuries before Opening Day.
Expect Melvin to get things going.
Now, back to the writing up the day’s full recap…
I was just alerted to something on Twitter which led me to pursue a lead. That led to awareness that the Milwaukee Brewers have traded Norichika Aoki to the Kansas City Royals for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
Smith, 24, worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen for the Royals in 2013 appearing in 19 contests with just one start. He started just 10 of his 28 appearances for the Omaha Storm Chasers (the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate) in 2013 as well. Smith, 6’5″ 250 lbs, throws from the left-side and will at worst fill a need that Doug Melvin made no secret about wanting to take care of. That need being another left-handed relief pitcher to compliment Tom Gorzelanny in Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. But, as Doug Melvin told reporters shortly after the trade was announced, Will Smith will be coming to Maryvale on February 15th as a starting pitcher.
Aoki will be missed. He provided a quality lead-off hitter and mostly capable defense primarily in right field as a Brewer.
The trade opens up the roster to further bring along the possible move of Ryan Braun to right field so that Milwaukee can get their young, left-field-only slugger Khris Davis into the everyday lineup.
Following now is the official release from the Brewers…
BREWERS TRADE OUTFIELDER NORICHIKA AOKI TO KANSAS CITY
Acquire Left-Handed Pitcher Will Smith
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired left-handed pitcher Will Smith from Kansas City in exchange for outfielder
Norichika Aoki. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
“Will Smith is someone we have liked for a couple of years now,” said Melvin. “We had the chance to acquire a 24-year-old big physical left-hander who we feel can be a part of our staff. We could not walk away from the opportunity.”
Smith was acquired by the Royals via trade from the Angels on July 22, 2010. He was originally selected by the Angels in the seventh round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Smith has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Major Leagues with Kansas City, going 8-10 with a 4.76 ERA in 35 games (17 starts). He has gone 6-10 with a 5.48 ERA as a starter (93.2ip, 57er) and 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in relief (29.1ip, 8er).
Smith went 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 games (1 start) during seven stints with the Royals this season (4/21, 4/28, 6/25-7/8, 8/4-8/6, 8/10-8/12, 8/16-8/20 and 8/25-end). He held opponents to a .202 batting average with 43 strikeouts in just 33.1 innings. Smith made his Major League debut in 2012 with the Royals, going 6-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 16 starts.
Aoki, who turns 32 on January 5, batted .287 with 18 HR, 87 RBI and 50 stolen bases in 306 games during his two seasons with the Brewers.
He signed with Milwaukee on January 17, 2012 after his negotiating rights were awarded to the team by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League on December 19, 2011.
“Nori is a true professional and performed very well as a member of the Brewers,” said Melvin. “This was a tough call because of what he brought to our organization on the field and in the clubhouse.”
The Milwaukee Brewers announced a short while ago that they have acquired 20-year-old left-handed pitching prospect Luis Ortega from the Boston Red Sox. In return, the Red Sox acquired right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop.
Badenhop was 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA and a Save in 63 appearances out of Milwaukee’s bullpen in 2013. It was Badenhop’s lone season as a Brewer, having been acquired on December 1st of last year.
Luís David Ortega, 5’10″ 155 lb, signed as an international free agent with the Boston back in 2011 and has pitched the past two seasons in their system. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ortega pitched in the Dominican Summer League as a 19-year-old before pitching for Boston’s Gulf Coast League rookie ball affiliate in 2012. In total, he’s appearaed in 25 games as a professional, including 13 starts in 2011 and just one start in 2012 to go along with 11 relief appearances. He’s logged 96.0 innings pitched with a combined ERA of 2.25.
Ortega could begin the 2013 season with Class-A Wisconsin if he has a good spring, but certainly he’ll be stateside. Whether he works as a starter or reliever will be something most likely decided upon soon so off-season workouts can be adjusted as necessary.
Clearly the Brewers have confidence in some of their young middle relief pitchers who debuted last season in order to surrender a Major League veteran. Also a factor is that Badenhop was arbitration eligible. Bottom line, if you can get the same job done for cheaper, it just makes sense to do it that way.
With Badenhop’s depature, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 39.
Per a tweet from Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers have indeed identified the player they will be receiving from the St. Louis Cardinals to complete the trade for veteran reliever John Axford.
RHP Michael Blazek is indeed player to be named for #Brewers in John Axford trade.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) September 1, 2013
So let’s learn a little bit about the newest Brewers relief prospect.
Michael Robert Blazek is a 6’0″, 200 lbs right-handed power relief pitcher who was originally drafted by the Cardinals back in the 35th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He turned 24 years old earlier this season and made his big league debut on June 22nd of this year.
Blazek struggled early in his minor league career and sports a career 4.13 ERA as a result. Being able to throw in the mid-90s usually gets you some time to develop, especially since he was signed out of high school in Nevada. This year has been a revelation for the player who was ranked as the Cardinals’ 5th-best prospect prior to the trade by MLBPipeline.com.
Here is the write-up on Blazek from MLB.com:
Just two years ago, Blazek was a starter who had reached Triple-A. With a four-pitch mix, it seemed his ceiling was that of a No. 4 or 5 starter. After seven ineffective starts in 2012, however, the Cardinals moved the right-hander into the bullpen, and he posted a 2.59 ERA and .182 batting average against in 33 Double-A outings. Blazek pitched with an average fastball as a starter, but he was up to 95 mph out of the bullpen, and it might be plus more consistently if he stays with shorter stints. He still has three secondary pitches in his curve, slider and changeup that have the chance to be Major League average. It seems like the Cardinals will stick with Blazek as a reliever, giving his stuff a chance to play up and get him to the big leagues faster.
That was written prior the start of the 2013 season. Stay tuned for where he’ll be ranked on the Brewers’ list after the trade is officially completed.
***UPDATE: Blazek was initially slotted into the Brewers Top 20 at #11 but then changed to #10. See it here: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2013/#list=mil ***
So far in 2013, Blazek pitched at both Double-A and Triple-A in the Cardinals organization before making his MLB debut. Combined in the minors he threw 45.2 IP over 36 appearances. He compiled nine Saves and a 1.97 ERA. His WHIP was 1.182 as he allowed just 28 hits and 26 walks. And his K/9 and K/BB were 10.2 and 2.0 respectively with his 52 total strikeouts. Those are certainly numbers that are encouraging.
However, once Blazek reached the major leagues his command struggles became more pronounced. He walked 10 in 10.1 IP to go along with 10 hits allowed, including two home runs. He did strikeout 10 as well, so the potential to “miss bats” at the big league level has certainly manifested itself early. But a WHIP near 2.00 as a relief pitcher won’t get it done. Nor will his ERA which sits at a robust 6.97 right now.
Some of that is small sample size fun, and Milwaukee’s pitching coaches will help him refine his mechanics and whatever else needs some help to get him to realize a bit more consistency.
He’s certainly a name that you’ll need to know about heading into next year’s Spring Training…that is, assuming he doesn’t come to Milwaukee for the balance of the 2013 season.
***UPDATE: The Brewers officially announced (about 20 minutes after this first posted) that Blazek will indeed be joining the big league bullpen tomorrow.***
Milwaukee Brewers have acquired a player to be named from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right-handed reliever John Axford.
The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. Axford, 30, is 6-7 with a 4.45 ERA in 62 relief appearances this season. Though he did not produce a save for the Brewers in 2013, he ranks second on the all-time franchise list in that category (106), trailing only Dan Plesac (133). Axford went 21-19 with a 3.35 ERA and 106 saves in 268 relief appearances with the Brewers from 2009-13. His 46 saves in 2011 set a franchise record. He is eligible for arbitration. “John has been a big contributor to the Brewers, and we do not go to the playoffs in 2011 without his outstanding performance,” said Melvin. “He and his wife, Nicole, will also be missed as contributors to the Milwaukee community.”
In a corresponding roster move, the Brewers have recalled right-handed pitcher Alfredo Figaro from Triple-A Nashville. Figaro is 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 games (5 starts) with Milwaukee this season.