Archive for the ‘ Trades ’ Category

Rumor: Brewers In Trade Talks to Acquire Papelbon?

JonathanPapelbon

According to a tweet that came in just after midnight CT on Friday morning, the Brewers are in “serious discussions” to acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies have been selling off several of their high-priced veterans, and Papelbon fits that M.O. The 6’4″ veteran closer is set to make $13 million in 2015 and has a vesting option for 2016 as a part of his contract as well. The Brewers did just save ~$9 million when they traded Yovani Gallardo, so conventional logic would seem to infer that the Phillies might be paying a portion of Papelbon’s contract in any deal.

The now 34-year-old Papelbon saved 39 games for a Phillies team that only won 79 all season. He pitched to a 2.04 ERA in 66.1 IP. He struck out 63 batters and walked just 15. In stark contrast to the outgoing Brewers closer of 2014, Francisco Rodriguez, Papelbon gave up only two (2) home runs last year. His FIP (2.53) and WHIP (0.905) are encouraging peripherals as well.

Papelbon does have a 17-team no-trade list, but it’s unknown whether the Brewers are on the list.

An acquisition of Papelbon would certainly satisfy Doug Melvin’s oft-stated desire to have multiple guys in the his bullpen who have experience closing games. In fact, Papelbon was a rumored target for the Brewers last season before they ultimately acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, the idea of Papelbon in Milwaukee was panned due to the financial commitment due him. For the record, his 2016 option (also at $13 million) vests if Papelbon finishes 48 games in 2015 as that would bring his two-year total up to 100.

***UPDATE***

As often happens when one baseball writer breaks news, others react to it by checking in with their own sources and then share what they’ve learned. So far today, that role has been filled by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.

So all that seems to counter, to a degree, what Jeff Passan originally reported. However, Jayson Stark then chimed in.

Stay tuned.

Gallardo Trade Details

 

SardinasKnebel

As first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (and since confirmed by several respected writers), the Milwaukee Brewers are receiving three players in return for Yovani Gallardo who was traded to the Texas Rangers.

The three players are a shortstop, a relief pitcher and an 18-year-old starting pitching prospect.

The shortstop is 21-year-old Luis Sardiñas who was suggested by Ken Rosenthal as potentially being involved as the Rangers had offered the Venezuelan in other trade ideas this off-season. He’s a guy who some still regard highly (7th overall Rangers prospect according to Baseball America) while others (MLB Pipeline, unranked) don’t have him nearly as high anymore. He’s considered a true shortstop defensively which is never a bad thing to have in the system.

The relief pitcher is Corey Knebel, a 23-year-old former 1st round pick (2013, 39th overall) of the Detroit Tigers. Knebel made his MLB debut in May of 2014, appearing in a total of eight games for the Tigers. He was later traded to the Rangers in the Joakim Soria deal. Knebel was listed as the Rangers’ eighth-best prospect prior to the deal. Of Knebel’s abilities, the website says:

Knebel definitely has the weapons and competitive makeup with which to close games. His fastball ranges from 91-98 mph with tailing action, and he uses his height to throw it on a downhill plane. When he stays on top of his curveball, it can be just as nasty as his heater, arriving in the low 80s with sharp downward break.

There’s some funkiness to Knebel’s delivery, but it adds more deception than it detracts from his ability to throw strikes. He flashes a decent changeup, which had the Tigers initially considering trying him as a starter, but his future definitely is as a reliever.

Knebel is 6’3″, was a closer at the University of Texas, and quite clearly skyrocketed through the minors and into The Show. If healthy (he was shut down in August with a UCL injury), he joins a murky if somewhat crowded Brewers bullpen situation.

The youngster of the trio is Marcos Diplan, (20th Rangers prospect, MLBPipeline). He can reportedly touch 98 MPH and sits in the low 90s but has room to add power onto his young frame. Diplan was the consensus top pitcher in the 2013 international class coming out of the Dominican Republic, that coming from MLBPipeline.com.

All told, this is a quality return for the Brewers. There is no surefire superstar in the group, but for one guaranteed season of Gallardo, and a chance to sign him to an extension or at least extend a qualifying offer, this was probably about as strong a return as could have been hoped. Oh, and as I reported yesterday, the Brewers kicked in some money to Texas. Reports have it as $4 million. That could explain some of the delay as a dollar amount of that size would need approval from the commissioner’s office.

Both Sardinas and Knebel were on the Rangers 40-man roster. Gallardo leaving opens one spot.

***UPDATE: To clear the other needed spot, former organizational player of the year Hunter Morris was designated for assignment.***

Rumor: Yovani Gallardo Headed to Rangers In Trade

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As first pinpointed by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, the Brewers followed through on my report from early last week and are reportedly on the verge of trading away homegrown starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to the Texas Rangers.

Gallardo, as you may recall, became the Brewers’ career strikeout leader late in 2014 and was on pace to overtake several statistical categories in Brewers history in the near future. It now appears as though the man we call “Yo” will finish where he currently sits.

I’m writing to discuss why I think this trade went down, some of the logistics without yet knowing all the names involved for sure, as well as my generalized thoughts about trading Gallardo from a macro level.

First, the Brewers are basically maxed out on their payroll as the day begins. Principal owner Mark Attanasio has been flexible over the years in adding payroll in season when the chance to compete is there. Just look at 2014. He authorized acquiring Jonathan Broxton (the likely closer to begin 2015) and Gerardo Parra (a pricey current 4th outfielder) after all. But entering a season where they sit after avoiding arbitration with all three of their eligible players (~$97 million committed to 12 players per Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt), it’s not that far of a stretch to understand why Attanasio might want to trim a little payroll fat. Gallardo is set to make $13 million in the final season of a six-year, $42.5 million contract he signed before the 2010 season. This is also pretty strong evidentiary support of the idea that the Brewers had no plans to offer Gallardo another long-term contract or even a qualifying offer after the season.

That’s just one of the logistical points of this situation. Another that I’ve been told is that the Brewers might not be moving all of Gallardo’s $13 million. There is chatter that they’ll be paying a portion of his deal. That’s normally done to offset the cost to the acquiring team, thereby increasing the return in quality and/or quantity of players.

But why now? Why move Gallardo at all? He was drafted by the Brewers, after all. I’ve heard all this and more since the trade rumor was first floated out. To those questions, I answer thusly.

Gallardo rebounded a bit in 2014 and actually had a better overall season than many give him credit for. He still struggled against St. Louis, had a poor May after an excellent April and limped through September when everything around the team seemed to be collapsing together, but his season was strong as a sum of its parts. Gallardo’s fastball came back to life and he posted a career-best BB/9 ratio of 2.5 overall. With a full season of control, Gallardo is more valuable to the Brewers to move now than he would be at any other point in 2015. And outside of the money issues, Gallardo is the most moveable piece among the pitchers. He’s the best combination of return, savings, and striking while the iron is hot on the team.

You aren’t moving the cheap Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson. Kyle Lohse is the oldest of the group and wouldn’t bring as much in return since there’s less projectability left on his arm than that of Gallardo. And after bringing in Matt Garza on an expensive deal, that’s not changing yet, plus the fact that Garza is already on pace to providing an extremely inexpensive contract option.

You also can’t let yourself worry about the fact that he was drafted and developed by the Brewers. So was Rickie Weeks. So was Prince Fielder. So was Corey Hart. There is a time for the vast majority of players in the era of free agency to move on from their original teams. If Gallardo isn’t in the long-term plan and he can bring you back someone who is, you move him. It can be a hard thing for a franchise like Milwaukee to do when homegrown talent under team control is a necessity to win, but when that talent prices themselves out of town decisions must be made regardless of the potential public relations hit. In a perfect world every Brewer is Robin Yount, but a perfect world this ain’t.

As for the return, well that just might be another column once we learn the particulars. Rosenthal speculates that Luis Sardiñas might be involved, but as of Sunday afternoon Gallardo hadn’t even been informed that he’d been traded. A principal agreement could be in place without all the details sorted out. I’m told that Gallardo’s agent leaked the report though so somebody knows something. Understandably, both front offices are upset as the track record exists for both to operate quietly.

In regards to the next step that so many people wanted to jump to on social media already, the agent for James Shields wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t reach out to the Brewers to discern their plan and see if his client might fit. After all, the talk for a bit now is how nobody is in on Shields at the number he wanted. Engaging the Brewers could get things a bit more towards where Shields would like them to be. Then again, the conspiracy theorists point to how shortly after the Gallardo news broke, the Nationals agreeing to a contract with free agent pitcher Max Scherzer came out. They are pointing to the coincidence to indicate that maybe the Brewers desiring to trade for Wisconsin-native starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and needed to free up a rotation spot and some money to do it and that now that the Nationals feel confident in trading Zimmermann, they could fully engage on Scherzer. While that’s all plausible, it certainly feels like a couple of steps past where things stand as the sun comes up on Monday, January 19th.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling that things could get fun today.

Trade News: Brewers Trade Marco Estrada

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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.

Five Minutes With Jonathan Broxton’s Agent, BB Abbott

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.

BB Abbott with client Chipper Jones

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.

Roster News: Brewers Bolster Bullpen By Bringing In Broxton

Brox

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.

BREAKING TRADE NEWS: Brewers Send Prospects Haniger, Banda to Diamondbacks

GerardoParra

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.

From MLB's Twitter feed

From MLB’s Twitter feed

Hot Stove Report: A Pair of Conversations

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.

Hot Stove Report: Pushing The Issue

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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…

BREAKING: Brewers Trade Norichika Aoki

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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.”

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