It has been over a month since the Brewers’ deep and thrilling playoff run ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the NLCS. Now that the 2018 season is in the rearview, it is time for David Stearns & co. to explore their options to reload the team to ensure last season’s contention was not an aberration.
Something Milwaukee lacked in 2018 and has lacked for quite some time is a bona fide, all-star level starting pitcher. While it is true that manager Craig Counsell’s philosophy values relief pitching to an extreme degree, that style of management isn’t sustainable throughout the course of a 162-game regular season like it is over a playoff run where every single pitch is critical. That said, there are some intriguing starting pitchers potentially on the market for the Brewers to use their deep farm system to trade for. Two names stick out in particular, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner. Let’s explore these possibilities and what it will take to pull them off.
The 26-year-old, flame-throwing right hander is one of baseball’s top pitchers when healthy. Combine his talent with the fact that he does not hit free agency until 2022, and you’re looking at one of the most attractive potential trade targets in baseball. On Wednesday, Andy Martino of SNY singled out the Brewers and the Rockies as two teams expressing interest in trading for Syndergaard. The Brewers’ front office has showed reluctance in giving up the organization’s top prospect, Keston Hiura, so with that in mind, my potential package will not include him. With Orlando Arcia showing this postseason that he is capable of being the shortstop of the future and Hiura looking like the second baseman of the future, infield prospect Mauricio Dubon makes sense as a part of this potential trade. All in all, I believe the Brewers would have to give up Corey Ray, Mauricio Dubon, and Zack Brown to get the Mets to bite on a deal.
Another ace-level hurler Milwaukee may be considering making a move for is 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. This potential deal is a bit risky, given that Bumgarner only has one season of team control and he hasn’t been his normal dominant self the last two seasons due in large part to injury. However, his services might be worth the risk because the Crew could re-sign him once his contract expires, and he could be the missing piece to the elusive World Series title. He has already won three commissioner’s trophies with the San Francisco Giants, and has proven he brings his best stuff to the table in the biggest of games. The asking price for Bumgarner would certainly be lower than Syndergaard, so with that being said I think the Brewers could entice the Giants with an offer of fourth-ranked organizational prospect Tristen Lutz, and RHP Cody Ponce as a complimentary piece.
As is abundantly clear from last season, The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen does not need improvement. Led by Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers pen was the consensus best in the National League. Also of note is that some Brewers starters, namely Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez are free agents and could very well be pitching elsewhere next season. This offseason has already seen a large-scale trade involving a starting pitcher, or should I say, “initial out-getter”, with James Paxton getting moved to the New York Yankees. Clearly the Brewers aren’t on the Yankees’ level in terms of market size, but who says they can’t follow suit and snag a big time starter of their own?