3 Milwaukee Brewers trades to boost postseason odds

Jul 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; A Milwaukee Brewers hat and glove on the dugout rail against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the tenth inning at PNC Park.Milwaukee won 6-5 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers pulled off the first big trade of the 2021 MLB season, acquiring Willy Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays. With this team clearly buying in the hopes of making the postseason, the MLB trade deadline offers plenty of possibilities for Milwaukee.

Unlike many contenders in the National League, the Brewers really don’t need rotation help. The trio of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta is among the best in MLB and could handle the workload in a playoff series. Even behind them, Adrian Houser is an effective No. 4 starter for a playoff-caliber team.

For as strong as the Brewers’ rotation is, its lineup is a problem. Far too often this season, Milwaukee has seen great pitching performances wasted by a group of hitters who fail to consistently produce runs. At a time when the NL Central is up for grabs, president of baseball operations David Stearns can’t let this time go to waste.

Let’s examine three trades that could help the Brewers reach the MLB postseason.

Milwaukee Brewers land Eduardo Escobar

Milwaukee Brewers, Eduardo Escobar
May 31, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Eduardo Escobar (5) celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Even before Travis Shaw’s injury, the Brewers needed to find something better at third base. Through 72 games, Milwaukee’s third basemen have the third-worst wRC+ (62), the worst SLG (.307) and batting average (.187). Things aren’t getting any better in June, as evidenced by a 54 wRC+ and .152 batting average.

Eduardo Escobar fixes all of that with one powerful swing. The 32-year-old doesn’t hit for a high average (.240) and walks just 6.4% of the time, but he drives in runs. Escobar has 15 home runs and 45 RBIs through 70 games, posting a .455 SLG and 100 wRC+. Better yet, his spray chart shows his power would play nicely in the NL Central.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks are rebuilding, so Escobar is a safe bet to be moved. Because he’s a rental, the price will also be reduced and there aren’t a ton of teams in the market for a third baseman/second baseman. A trade package of outfielder Tristen Lutz (MIL’s No. 12 prospect) and pitcher Patrick Weigel could get a deal done.

Brewers strengthen bullpen with Paul Fry

Milwaukee Brewers, trade targets
Jun 11, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Paul Fry (51) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no denying the dominance of Milwaukee’s rotation. When one of their co-aces is on the mound and covers seven innings, it’s practically a direct path to Josh Hader to close things down. Hader is dominant as ever, posting a 15.17 K/9 and 0.61 ERA with 18 saves in 29.2 innings this season. But even when including him in the equation, the Brewers’ bullpen ranks 18th in ERA (4.15).

Devin Williams is starting to rebound after a rough start. He holds a crisp 2.38 ERA and 41.11% strikeout rate in his last 22.2 innings, registering 12 holds and allowing just 16 hits across 95 batters faced. Brad Boxberger (3.03 ERA) has also been sharp, but this team needs more depth.

Fry, under team control through 2024, would give Milwaukee another outstanding lefty out of the bullpen. he is used to pitching in a hitter-friendly park, with a majority of his appearances coming at Camden Yards. Across 26 innings, Fry holds a 2.98 xFIP, 2.76 ERA and holds opponents to a .183 batting average. Putting him in the bullpen with Hader, Williams and Boxberger would complete Milwaukee’s pitching staff.

Milwaukee Brewers trade for C.J. Cron

Milwaukee Brewers
Jun 17, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) hits a grand slam in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee tried to make it work with Keston Hiura and it failed twice. There is zero reason to give up hope in his future, but there’s no way he can be trusted to make a meaningful contribution in 2021. So, the Brewers must look outside the organization to address a position that is producing an ugly 76 wRC+, .213 batting average and .367 SLG this season.

C.J. Cron is the answer. First baseman are relatively more affordable on the trade market to begin with, due to the declining positional value and Cron’s defense is a negative. Even better for Milwaukee, the veteran is on a one-year deal and that should drive down his price even more.

The 31-year-old owns a strong .271/.371/.465 slash line this season, posting a 121 wRC_ with 29 RBIs and nine home runs in 58 games. He could plug in the No. 6 spot of Milwaukee’s lineup providing some nice pop and generating more runs. While he isn’t a flashy name, the difference in production between Cron and what the Brewers have now is significant.

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