With the MLB trade deadline approaching, the Milwaukee Brewers could look to shore up their team as they make a pennant push. With analysts thinking catcher, second base, shortstop and starting pitcher being potential needs, here are 15 players who could interest the Brewers:
Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay
A hot name in trade rumors this offseason, Archer has been just OK this season -- 4.41 ERA, 1.381 WHIP -- and just returned from an abdominal injury. His strikeouts are down -- 8.9 per nine innings compared to 10.8/9 over the last three seasons. Archer hasn't been great the past couple of seasons, posting ERAs just above 4 and WHIPs in the 1.25 range, but he is signed through 2019 (with team options in 2020 and '21) and maybe a change of scenery, and to the National League, would help.
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Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B, NY Mets
Milwaukee picked up a rental second baseman from the Mets last season, so maybe again this year? New York figures to deal off players and go with a youth movement and Cabrera should be on the block. He'd definitely add a little more power to the lineup. This season he's batting .282/.330/.497 and has 17 home runs. Cabrera has hit 14+ homers in eight consecutive seasons. Although he's played just second base in 2018, Cabrera has experience at shortstop and third base. However, advanced metrics show he's not a good defender, with a negative dWAR the past seven seasons, including 2018.
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Francisco Cervelli, C, Pittsburgh
There have been rumors that the Pirates are willing to deal the 32-year-old Cervelli, who is signed through 2019. With Manny Pina struggling at the plate, Cervelli would be an upgrade. He's batting .247/.381/.468 in 59 games this season and has a .368 on-base percentage in his four years with Pittsburgh. After being below average in throwing out attempted stealers the past few seasons, Cervelli is a bit above average this year with a 32 percent caught stealing rate. (Pina was 36 percent last season as well as in 2018.)
Jacob deGrom, SP, NY Mets
We're not sure New York wants to deal deGrom, but he'd certainly be the ace Milwaukee would love to have. He'd also be costly, as the right-hander is under team control through 2020. The All-Star has been Cy Young Award worthy this season, with a 1.68 ERA, 0.973 WHIP and 10.9 K/9. In 2017, deGrom had a 3.53 ERA, 1.187 WHIP and 10.8 K.9 and in his career he's at 2.78, 1.100 and 9.9. We'll have to see if the Mets really make him available -- and try not to faint when you see the price tag.
Derek Dietrich, UT, Miami
The Brewers have been mentioned a few times over the last month or so as a team interested in Dietrich. Like deGrom, Dietrich is under team control through 2020 (arbitration eligible after this season). After hitting 13 home runs last season, Dietrich has 11 so far already in 2018, with a slash line of .286/.349/.450. He's played all over the diamond in his six years with the Marlins -- outfield, first base, third base and second base, and presumably Milwaukee would use him at the latter, although he could provide insurance all over (and manager Craig Counsell does like versatile players).
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Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota
The Twins have gotten hot lately and are 7 1/2 games out of the AL Central, but at 42-49 (entering Friday) it seems like they'll be sellers. Dozier, who is 31, will be a free agent at the end of the year and is having an off year, batting .229/.314/.419 with 15 home runs. But he hit 42 home runs in 2016 and 34 last season (while hitting .271/.359/.498). He's also historically done better after the All-Star break, including 2017 (.304/.394/.591 with 21 HR) and '16 (.291/.344/.646 with 28 HR).
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Tampa Bay
He's a rental and might not be a big name as his teammate Archer, but Eovaldi, who missed all of last season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, is pitching like an ace this year. He's made eight starts for the Rays and has a 3.35 ERA and 0.807 WHIP (he's walked six batters in 48 1/3 innings), while posting a career-high 8.2 K/9. Over his last three starts, Eovaldi has allowed two runs on 10 hits in 19 innings, striking out 23. Eovaldi will be a free agent at the end of the season, but he could be a nice upgrade for the Brewers' rotation.
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Eduardo Escobar, SS, Minnesota
If the Brewers can't get a bigger-name shortstop (see below), Escobar could be a nice Plan B. He'll be a free agent at the end of the year and the Twins have former first-round pick Nick Gordon in the minors at Triple-A ready to take over soon. Escobar has been a jack-of-all trades for Minnesota (again, another versatile player) having played third, short and second this season (he's also played outfield, caught and pitched in his career). He's also come alive offensively. After batting .254 with a .449 slugging percentage in 2017, Escobar is hitting .272/.328/.517 this year with a league-leading 35 doubles and 14 home runs.
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Michael Fulmer, SP, Detroit
Apparently the Tigers are thinking about dealing the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year. Fulmer has slipped some in 2018 -- his 4.11 ERA, 1.267 WHIP are both the worst of his three-year career, but his strikeouts are up (7.6 K/9) and he's only 25 and can't be a free agent until 2023. Having a down (for him) year, Fulmer's price tag might be lowered a bit. A change of scenery might do him well.
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Sonny Gray, SP, NY Yankees
The Yankees reportedly want to upgrade their pitching staff, mainly due to Gray being a disaster this year (5.46 ERA, 1.511 WHIP). So, yeah, he's not the ideal guy to pick up, and the Yankees would likely have to make a trade for a starter before entertaining dealing Gray. However … the Brewers were reportedly interested in Gray at last year's deadline, when Oakland sent him to New York. He and Milwaukee pitching coach Derek Johnson have a previous relationship when both were at Vanderbilt and there's a thought that Gray isn't handling pitching in New York, so going to, say, a Midwest team would do him some good and get him back to being the guy who owned a 3.42 ERA and 1.200 WHIP over five seasons in Oakland. Gray is also under team control through next season.
J.A. Happ, SP, Toronto
The cousin of Wisconsin basketball player Ethan Happ, J.A. Happ is a strong candidate to be dealt this year. The 35-year-old left-hander will be a free agent at season's end, making him a rental candidate. The question for the Brewers is, will he present that much of an upgrade? Happ had a 4.29 ERA this season, but a 1.193 WHIP and is striking out 10 batters per nine innings, a career high. After bouncing around the majors, he's had a lot of success with the Blue Jays, including winning 20 games with a 3.18 ERA and 1.169 WHIP in 2016.
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Matt Harvey, SP, Cincinnati
Harvey isn't the guy who dazzled the baseball world in his first two seasons with the Mets in 2012-13. But he's also not the guy who was getting bombed in New York the past couple of years. Harvey is starting to turn things around in Cincinnati, which dealt for him earlier this year. Overall with the Reds, Harvey has a 3.79 ERA and 1.163 WHIP, but in his last four starts he has a 1.88 ERA and 1.041 WHIP. He'll be a free agent at the end of the year and Cincy likely is looking to flip him. Perhaps he could be had for a lower-level prospect. There's some risk here, but also a potential high reward.
Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore
There likely hasn't been a position player of this caliber available at the trade deadline since … maybe ever. Just 25 years old, Machado is hitting .316/.385/.573 this season despite being constantly asked about trade rumors. He's an impact bat which will propel whichever team he ends up with (and there's little doubt at this point that the Orioles will trade him) to a World Series contender. On the downside, of course, is that he's a rental player and will command big bucks in the offseason, and it's going to likely cost more to obtain him than the usual rental. His defense at short this year has not been good, by advanced metrics, but he's been a superior defensive third baseman (with two Gold Gloves) and maybe getting out of Baltimore (which has an overall horrid defense) will help.
Whit Merrifield, 2B, Kansas City
We're not sure why the Royals might be looking to deal Merrifield -- his name has been bandied about -- as he can't become a free agent until 2023. However, he is a late arrival to the majors, already 29 years old and in just his third season. Merrifield is another versatile player who could slot in at second base, but also provide depth in the outfield and at third. Last season, his first as a full-timer, he hit .288/.342/.460 with 19 home runs and 34 stolen bases. He's been even better in 2018, at .302/.373/.430 with 16 steals. While he has just five home runs, Merrifield has 29 doubles, three shy of his career high. Not sure what it'd cost to get him, but he'd fit in with what Counsell likes out of his position players.
Wilson Ramos, C, Tampa Bay
If the Brewers do want an offensive upgrade at catcher, there aren't going to be many options -- and Ramos could be off the market soon as well as there are rumors Houston might be looking at him to replace injured Brian McCann. Ramos has had some up-and-down years in the majors, but this year is an "up" as he's batting .295/.345/.484 with 14 home runs. While he's had a positive dWAR every year of his career but one, Ramos has struggled throwing out attempted basestealers the past two years -- 17 percent caught rate in 2017 and 22 percent this season (from 2014-16 he was at 38 percent, 44 percent and 37 percent). Ramos would be a rental, scheduled to be a free agent after the season.