As each loss passes them by the Milwaukee Brewers have got to be thinking sell is the only option once the All-Star break rolls around in a few weeks. Milwaukee’s most valuable trade chip will be one of their starting pitchers.
The Brewers have three starting pitchers they can offer to other teams for some talent in return. The pitchers available are Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Zack Greinke, who could easily be the biggest prize at the trade deadline. The contracts for all three pitchers expires at the end of the season which means if Milwaukee feels they are not going to re-sign them, then they better get something for them.
Wolf has been pitching well as of late and has put up the numbers to record wins but the bullpen keeps letting him down. There are several postseason contenders who could use Wolf as their fourth or fifth starter, a position that is very important down the stretch and into the playoffs. With Wolf gone the Brewers could then also trade catcher George Kottaras considering Martin Maldonado has emerged as a solid backup for Jonathan Lucroy. National League teams would love to have Kottaras’ power off the bench in a pinch hit role and teams in both leagues need a solid backup catcher in the postseason.
Marcum is the least likely of the trio to get traded due to the soreness in his right throwing arm. He has been experiencing arm tightness on and off this season since as early as spring training. If healthy, Marcum would be a valuable commodity because of his consistency and ability to get the necessary outs without throwing high velocity.
As I said before, Greinke is easily the most sought after pitcher this season. The Brewers will have several offers to choose from, including prospects and major league talent. If they are more than six games out of first place at the midway point then they will have no choice but to consider dealing their best pitcher. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has stated that he has not talked to any teams about Greinke, but other executives claim there is definitely some talking going on behind closed doors.
“They’re definitely expecting to move him unless something changes and they re-sign him,” one executive said.
Even if Melvin claims he has not discussed a possible trade with other teams, he did not shy away from admitting the Brewers must make up their minds soon.
“We’ve got to make a decision on what we’re doing overall,” Melvin said. “We’re hoping we can put a good week together. If we don’t, we’ve got to be prepared to go both ways. A lot more clubs are starting to call now. Clubs are calling on different players.”
Other teams are willing to give up plenty of prospects for the three pitchers mentioned; however, the Brewers are not interested in going into re-build mode. They were two games away from the World Series last season and they intend to put the best team together to get them back there immediately, not five years from now.
As of now, the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox are all possible candidates to go after Greinke and/or the other two pitchers. If Milwaukee is too far out of it three weeks from now, possibly even less than that, then look for the trade talks to pick up. It would be an unfortunate day to lose Greinke, but if the Brewers cannot re-sign him then it is critical they get something for him.