In recent Milwaukee Brewers history, when they have traded a prospect away, it has generally turned out for their benefit. When they traded top prospect Matt LaPorta for CC Sabathia, LaPorta greatly stumbled and struggled when promoted to the major leagues. When they dealt Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum, Marcum helped lead Milwaukee to the playoffs but Lawrie has been plagued with injury. Even when trading Zach Greinke, they were able to use him later to get another star shortstop in Jean Segura. But this year, the Brewers made a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that will not work out in their favor, as they traded outfield prospect Mitch Haniger for Gerardo Parra.
On the surface the deal looks great. The Brewers entered the trading deadline with a backup outfielder as their biggest need and Parra certainly fits that mold. He is not only a steady left-handed bat that was better than any previous option, but is also a Gold Glove defender, who has often been used to replace Khris Davis late in games.
But the price of dealing Haniger will prove to be too steep. By parting with Haniger, the Brewers lost a five-tool outfielder with an advanced bat. Since the time he was drafted, Haniger has proven himself, especially at the plate. Though he has battled injuries throughout his professional career, he is a .260 career hitter with 23 home runs. When playing with the best young hitters in the game in the Arizona Fall League last season, Haniger excelled. He was among league leaders in several categories, and lead the league with 24 RBIs. This spring after receiving an invite to Spring Training, Haniger homered in his first at-bat. He opened eyes by batting .500 through 10 games.
Though he batted just .193 through April, Haniger turned it on in Huntsville as the weather warmed. In May, Haniger batted .313, and in June he launched six home runs in just 13 games. Were he not injured, he realistically would have been an option at AAA Nashville by mid-season.
His bat will not be the only thing the club will miss. He is an excellent defender, too. In the outfield, he uses his speed to run tremendous routes and his strong throwing arm profiles perfectly for a future right-fielder.
While the Brewers filled a need in getting Para, watching Haniger’s rise could be very painful for their fans. In his first series with AA Mobile, Haniger squared off against his former Huntsville teammates and showed just how much of a pain he can be at the plate. After scoring two runs Friday night, Haniger had a big day on Sunday doubling twice and plating three runs, including a walk-off single in the 11th. Many trades have worked out in favor of Milwaukee, but Haniger will long be viewed as “the one that got away.”