Looking at a Brewers Rebuild in a Positive Light
When some people hear the word “rebuild,” they automatically assume that this means that their team will be terrible for a long time, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case for the Brewers. The Houston Astros are currently is rebuild mode, but I don’t think anything the Brewers do would be anywhere near that drastic. The Astros currently have a payroll of $24,255,700 and shipped out pretty much every decent player that they have had in the last few years. I don’t think there is any way that the Brewers’ “sell-mode” would be this dramatic. I would be shocked if they traded Braun, Segura and probably Gomez. These guys are a huge part of the Brewers offense, so even if they do trade players like Ramirez and Hart, I still think their offense will be able to keep them in a lot of games for the next couple of seasons. Obviously this means that they probably won’t be competing for a postseason spot for two or three years, but the players that they do keep will still be able to make this team fun to watch.
I don’t see any way that Aramis Ramirez is still wearing a Brewers uniform in the second half of 2013. Although his 2014 salary is $16MM, I believe the Brewers could find a team desperate enough to not only pay that salary, but also give the Brewers a couple of decent/good prospects in return. Corey Hart is another Brewer who could definitely be moved if he can get healthy soon enough. If K-Rod can keep up his success, a team in need of a closer or just bullpen help in general could end up offering the Brewers a prospect or two for him. Mike Gonzalez will also probably be made available to other teams if he can keep pitching like he did in May. He was terrible in the month of April with the Brewers, but then really pulled it all together and had a very successful month of May. Anyone currently in the bullpen is probably fair game to be traded, as contending teams are always looking for bullpen help down the stretch. Aoki is another guy that could probably be moved. The Brewers currently have him under team control for this year and another option for next year, so he could bring in a good prospect or two. He is only owed $1,250,000 this year, and would be owed $1.5MM next year if the team chose to pick up that option, so his contract would look very appealing to other teams. There have also been rumors that Gallardo might be on the trading block, but I’m not sure how credible those rumors are. It probably all depends on how drastic of a rebuild the Brewers are looking to do. Now would be the time to trade him, though.
With that being said, the Brewers do have some prospects that are having success in the minor leagues that could be ready for the 2014 season. The “hot prospects” right now are Hunter Morris (1B), and pitchers Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena and Jimmy Nelson. Right now, the Brewers starting pitching is their main concern, so the best case scenario is that at least one of these pitchers can be ready for next year. If they truly are going into “rebuild” mode, then we probably won’t see them signing any free agent pitchers this offseason, so they’re going to have to fill out their rotation based on what they already have. The Brewers could probably get some decent prospects in return for Gallardo, so it will be interesting to see if they keep him or trade him. Kyle Lohse is another name you hear swirling around in the trade rumors. Lohse has had some elbow issues lately, but has only had to miss one start and looked solid enough during his last outing against the Athletics. It’s probably a stretch to think that a contender would trade for him this year because his contract runs through 2015, he is already 34 years old and his contract is drastically back-loaded. If they Brewers want to trade him, they are probably going to have to eat some of his salary, but I think they will end up hanging on to him. Next year, we could be looking at either a rotation of Lohse, Gallardo (if he doesn’t get traded), Peralta, Estrada, and one of their pitching prospects, assuming that one would be ready for the major leagues. If Gallardo is traded, we could see two rookies be inserted in the rotation.
So, as you can see, selling-mode for the Brewers this season doesn’t necessarily mean disaster for the next few years. Even if we trade away Hart, Ramirez, K-Rod, Gonzalez, Aoki and possibly Gallardo, next year’s team still could be fun to watch, at least for awhile. Even though they probably won’t be contending for a spot in the postseason for a couple of years, selling off some key players allows them to get prospects and replenish their farm system so they are able to make another run at the playoffs in the near future.