The Brewers need pitching. Who could they trade for?

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Detroit Tigers
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Taking a look at the trade landscape for starting pitchers across the league

While the MLB hot stove isn’t likely to get really cooking for another month or so, it is still worth exploring what the potential trade market may look like for a team like the Brewers, as their seven-game cushion in the NL Central makes it likely that they will be buyers. As it stands, there is no question what the Brewers biggest, and arguably only, need is: starting pitching. While the team could always use another bench bat or bullpen piece, they’ll presumably be adding Garrett Mitchell and Devin Williams to the mix over the next month or two, and it is the rotation that has been decimated by injuries.

I’m not really here to predict what Milwaukee might use to acquire pitching help, but I’ll share a couple quick thoughts on that before moving on:

  • I suspect any deal for starting pitching would involve prospects, and I am mostly looking at teams that aren’t going to be interested in major-league help.
  • I’m on the record as predicting that the team does not trade Willy Adames before he hits free agency.
  • Depending on how Mitchell looks, it’s conceivable that one of the young outfielders currently or recently on the MLB team (Blake Perkins, Sal Frelick, Mitchell, Joey Wiemer) could be used in one of these deals.

Beyond that, I’m not going to speak specifically about which prospects Milwaukee might use in deals, I’m only going to predict cost in a general sense.

It is also worth remembering a couple of other important things:

  • Pitching is always at a premium, and everyone in the hunt will want to acquire it.
  • There are a bunch of teams within a few games of .500 in either direction right now. Conceivably a few of those teams will fall out and become sellers, but many of them may not decide to sell. With all the wild cards now, these races are unpredictable, and there are only a small handful of teams I am confident will be sellers.

Teams I am confident will be sellers

Chicago White Sox (17-50)

Erick Fedde (31 years old, two more arbitration years after this year)

Fedde is off to a good start—at this point, he is having by far the best season he has had as a major leaguer. He does not have a great track record, but he was fantastic in the KBO last season and may have figured something out in Korea. With two more years of control and good results this season, he won’t be cheap. Likelihood: definitely possible. Cost: high-ish.

Michael Soroka (26 years old, free agent after the season)

Soroka had an incredible rookie season in 2019, but injuries prevented him from pitching in 2021 or 2022 and it has been a rough go for him since coming back. He’s still young and those sparkly numbers from early in his career will entice people, but his strikeouts are down, his walks are way up, and his ERA and FIP are both over 6. This isn’t the type of player a contender looks to add. Likelihood: low. Cost: low.

Garrett Crochet (soon to be 25 years old, three years of arb after this year)

Crochet has been speculatively linked with the Brewers in media reports the last few days, but… I don’t see it. Crochet hasn’t turned 25 yet, he’s having a huge season (leading the American League in strikeouts and the majors in K/9), and he can’t be a free agent until after the 2027 season. If Crochet is traded, the cost will be enormous—for the Brewers, I’d think you’d have to be talking Jacob Misiorowski and Jeferson Quero, something like that. It doesn’t strike me as the type of move the Brewers would make at this point. Likelihood: nearly non-existent. Cost: astronomical.

Oakland Athletics (26-42)

JP Sears (28 years old, not arb eligible until 2026)

Sears has been about a league-average starter this year, a zone he’s been hovering in for the last two seasons. He’s not going to blow anyone away, but could be a usable, controllable piece. Likelihood: Seems reasonable. Cost: with four more years of control after this one, he won’t be cheap, even if he isn’t a star.

Paul Blackburn (30 years old, one more year of arb after this one)

Blackburn got off to an excellent start this year but faded, and a foot injury has had him out since early May. He probably won’t be back until the All-Star break at the earliest. Blackburn would be a good target if he weren’t hurt: he’s a pretty reliably average pitcher and has one more year of team control after this season. Likelihood: I won’t say it won’t happen, but the Brewers don’t need more injured pitchers. Cost: probably palatable.

Ross Stripling also seemed like a viable target whose FIP is way better than his 5.82 ERA and 1-9 record suggest, but he has a vague elbow problem and hasn’t thrown a ball in a while.

Los Angeles Angels (25-40)

Patrick Sandoval (27 years old, one more arb year after this one)

Sandoval is having a down year—he’s 2-8 with a 5.23 ERA—but that appears to be some bad luck, as his 3.75 FIP is much better and his peripherals are more-or-less in line with what he did the last three years, all of which were quite good. I have no idea if the Angels are willing to trade Sandoval—they’re an impossible team to get a read on—but it would probably be the smart thing for them to do. Likelihood: I think the cost is too high. Cost: High. The track record is there, and if he’s available, it’ll take a lot.

Tyler Anderson (34 years old, in second year of 3-year, $39-million contract)

I’m not sure what sort of stomach the Brewers have for adding salary, but you’d be trading for Tyler Anderson’s age 35 season next year if you traded for him now. He’s been great, but he has a 4.72 FIP, more than two runs higher than his 2.63 ERA, and he’s only striking out 5.8 batters per nine innings. Anderson was bad last year, good the year before. It’s tough to get a read. But given his success so far this year, I’d expect the price tag to be high, and he seems like a regression candidate for me. If I were the Angels, I would trade him as soon as possible. Likelihood: Unlikely. Cost: Medium-high.

Griffin Canning (28 years old, one more arb year after this one)

Nothing special about Canning, but he’s a viable target if you need someone to fill innings. And the Brewers need people to fill innings. Likelihood: They’ll probably look at different targets first. Cost: Pretty low.

Colorado Rockies (23-43)

Cal Quantrill (29 years old, one more arb year after this one)

Quantrill has had a nice season, but his FIP is almost a run higher than his ERA, and he only has about a 2:1 K:BB ratio, not great in the modern game (and especially not good in Colorado). Another guy I’d trade soon if I were the Rockies. Likelihood: It could happen Cost: Too high, if he keeps that ERA in the mid-3s.

Austin Gomber (30 years old, one more arb year after this one)

Like Quantrill, Gomber has a low ERA (3.38), but high FIP (4.83) and he has relatively low strikeout numbers. He was not good the last two years. Likelihood: Low, I hope. Cost: Probably low.

Dakota Hudson (29 years old, one more year of arb after this one)

Hasn’t looked very good this year, didn’t look very good the last two years. Outside of 2019 and the short 2020 season, he just hasn’t given much reason to believe. Likelihood: Low. Cost: Low.

Ty Blach (33 years old, one more arb year of this one)

No real track record of success but he’s been okay this year. Doesn’t strike out many batters, doesn’t walk many. He has a 95 ERA+ this year (and a FIP that’s 0.65 lower than his ERA) but has never before finished a season with an ERA+ over 90.

Miami Marlins (22-43)

I will start by saying I have no idea what to make of any of Miami’s pitchers. They’re all young, they’re all perpetually injured, they all seem good but inconsistent. Personally, I probably would not trade for any of these guys—the cost will be too high and the risk too great. But here are some options:

  • Ryan Weathers is only 24 and he’s had a good season. He isn’t arbitration eligible until 2026. This one isn’t happening.
  • Jesús Luzardo is 26 and has two more years of team control after this season. He’s had a bad season, but he’s coming off of two good ones. The cost would be high.
  • Trevor Rogers is 26, isn’t a free agent until 2027, and is having a bad year but he was a 23-year-old All-Star in 2021.
  • Edward Cabrera has intriguing ability and is 26 with a lot of team control but he has a mysterious shoulder injury that I would steer clear of.
  • Braxton Garrett is 26 and has only 26 innings this year with a 5.81 ERA, but his FIP is only 3.34 and he was good the previous two years. He would be costly.
  • Sixto Sánchez is 25, isn’t arbitration eligible until 2027, and has intriguing ability, but he also has a mysterious shoulder injury that I’d keep away from.

Teams that could become sellers

I don’t want to get too attached to these ideas because a couple of nice weeks will firmly remove any of these teams from “will they sell?” conversations. But very quickly I will go around and touch on some other players that could be available in the right circumstance.

Boston Red Sox (33-33)

  • Nick Pivetta, who is 31, is a free agent after the season. He’s good. Even if he’s just a rental, he won’t be cheap.
  • Tanner Houck is 28, has three more years of team control, and he’s been one of the best pitchers in the AL this season. I doubt he gets moved, but he’d cost a ton.
  • Kutter Crawford hasn’t been as good as Houck, but he’s also 28 and has four years of team control. Cost would be huge, don’t see it happening.

Toronto Blue Jays (32-34)

  • I don’t see the Brewers being a viable suitor for Kevin Gausman, who has two more years and $46 million left on his contract after this season. He’s been up and down this year but has finished in the top 10 in Cy Young Award voting in each of the last three seasons.
  • Chris Bassitt is a solid pitcher—coming into this year he has had an ERA+ of at least 113 in six straight seasons. But he’s expensive, with $22 million on the books next season, and he’s old, at 35. If Toronto is willing to eat a chunk of that salary, it’s possible.
  • Yusei Kikuchi is a popular name: he’s a good pitcher (3.48 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9), he’s pretty cheap, and he’s a free agent after the season so the prospect cost may not be super high.

Tampa Bay Rays (31-35)

I’d really watch the Rays. They’re very smart, and likely know they are out of it this year.

  • Zach Eflin has $18 million on the books for 2025 that I’m sure the Rays would like to get out of if they can. He’s 30, he doesn’t walk anyone, his underlying numbers are a bit better than his results this year. This one seems possible to me.
  • Aaron Civale has one more year of team control, hasn’t been great this year but could be a decent back-end pickup.
  • Zack Littell has one more year of team control, and has given up a ton of hits but he doesn’t walk anyone. Switched to starting last season, has been pretty good.

Detroit Tigers (32-33)

  • Jack Flaherty is having a very good year (3.22 ERA/2.71 FIP, 94 strikeouts, and 10 walks) and is a free agent after the season. The Tigers will likely wait to the last minute to see if they can get back into the AL Central race, but if Flaherty keeps pitching like this and is available, he’ll be a very popular guy at the deadline.
  • Kenta Maeda might be washed—he’s 36, his strikeouts are down, his walks are up, his ERA is 6.25 and his FIP is 5.85. He’s owed $10 million next year. Don’t see it.

Houston Astros (30-37)

  • If Justin Verlander is made available, I don’t really see him going to the Brewers.
  • Framber Valdez has one more year of team control and is a very good pitcher. If he’s available, the cost will be high.

New York Mets (28-36)

  • Jose Quintana is old and hasn’t been good, but he’s a free agent after the year and he can still eat innings. Definitely possible.
  • Luis Severino has had a nice bounce-back year and is also a free agent after the season. Likely to be moved if the Mets don’t turn things around in a hurry.

Washington Nationals (30-35)

Trevor Williams has been mentioned as a viable target and he’s had a very good season so far, but he’s on the IL at the moment with a flexor strain in his forearm, which sounds ominous.

Pittsburgh Pirates (31-34)

Martín Pérez hasn’t been great, he’s getting old, and he’s currently on the IL. A possible low-cost innings-eater, but probably not going to move the needle much.

St. Louis Cardinals (31-33)

I don’t really see Milwaukee and St. Louis doing business, but Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn are both veteran pitchers with club options next season who have been solid this season. Either could be helpful.

San Francisco Giants (33-34)

They could sell, but I don’t think Milwaukee’s buying. And I don’t think they’d sell Logan Webb.

Arizona Diamondbacks (31-35)

  • Jordan Montgomery has had a terrible year but has a track record of being a difference-maker at the trade deadline. Expensive, though.
  • Merrill Kelly is currently on the shelf. He could be back this year, and he’s very good, but I don’t really see Arizona parting with him—they love him there, and they have a club option for next season.

San Diego Padres (35-35)

  • It would be sort of a shock to see Dylan Cease get moved a second time this season, but if San Diego falls out of it, why not? One more arb year after this one.
  • The same situation applies to Michael King, who also has his last arb year next season. Cease and King have been about equal in terms of ERA (3.36 and 3.58, respectively), but Cease’s FIP (3.03) is way better than King’s (4.46).

Conclusions

I do expect the Brewers to move for pitching. Erick Fedde is the most likely target for me, but I could see a move for Paul Blackburn if he’s back before the trade deadline. Cal Quantrill or Austin Gomber also seem like options, but I wouldn’t feel great about either. I would also really keep an eye on the following players if their teams decide to sell: Nick Pivetta (Boston), Yusei Kikuchi (Toronto), Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, and Zack Littell (Tampa Bay), and Jose Quintana and Luis Severino (Mets).

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Title: The Brewers need pitching. Who could they trade for?
Author: paul_dietrich

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