There are a number of trade myths floating around about the Brewers. I am going to take a closer look at three of them.
Trade Myth #1
Jonathan Lucroy Wants Out
This myth involves Lucroy not wanting to be in Milwaukee any more. It is brought up often, and it all comes down to one interview that he did in January.
I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to compete for the playoffs this year. If I did that, you’d call me a liar. I’d lose credibility and respect. I want to win and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.
I have heard from many fans that seem to think that we need to get rid of Lucroy just because he does not want to be here, and I can see where this quote can look that way. However, since then he has not said or done anything that would indicate that he wants out.
He is out there playing at an All-Star level again, he is working with a young, inexperienced pitching staff, and he has improved at throwing out base stealers, the one aspect of his defense that was not at an elite level.
It is true that the Brewers denied Lucroy’s request for a contract extension last season, and some say that there is some bad blood between Lucroy and the Brewers. I don’t see that. For one thing, the Brewers have a new front office, which may have been one reason that Doug Melvin did not pursue an extension that may have hand-cuffed a new general manager.
Lucroy is a competitor, and as such, he wants to be on a winning team. We, as Brewer fans, want that. In Spring Training he said, “I just want to win. If I’m still here, I want to win in Milwaukee. If I’ll get traded, I’ll do my best to win there.”
I trust that David Stearns is making the moves that will make the Brewers a perennial contender as soon as possible. An elite catcher is definitely something to build around, but so can a bunch of top prospects.
One thing that is not being considered is whether or not Lucroy wants to be in Milwaukee. Lucroy is going to play hard and play to win.
Ryan Braun’s Contract Hurts His Value
This myth goes something like this: Nobody is going to take on Braun because his contract is too long and for too much money.
Braun is under contract until 2020 with a mutual option for 2021. He is making $20 million this season and for the next two seasons. It then goes down to $19 million in 2019 and $17 million in 2020. The option year is $15 million with a $4 million buyout.
For us normal people, these numbers are incredible, and downright scary if we think about spending that much. But for baseball teams, that is not all that much, especially for somebody who is producing at Braun’s level.
Braun is currently among the top 10 in the National League in batting average (.316) and OPS (.919), and in the top 20 in home runs (11) and RBI (35). It may help to compare his contract with some recent signings.
Yoenis Cespedes was signed by the Mets to a 3-year, $75 million contract in the offseason. Cespedes is in his fifth season and helped propel the Mets to the World Series after a trade deadline deal last season. He is currently hitting .277 with an OPS of .921, 16 home runs, and 39 RBI. So, for the next 2 1/2 years, Cespedes will be making an average of more than $5 million more per year than Braun.
Justin Upton was signed by the Tigers to a 6-year, $132.75 million contract that is spread out evenly over the life of the contract. So he is making a little more than $22 million per season. He is currently hitting .224 with an OPS of .610, 4 home runs, and 17 RBI.
Chris Davis signed a 7-year, $161 million deal with the Orioles. So what does $23 million get you? A .228 batting average, .837 OPS, 15 home runs, and 37 RBI.
Braun’s contract does seem pretty club-friendly at this point. There are other concerns, such as his health, but the money on his contract is not an issue.
The length is not much of an issue either. He will be 36 at the end of his contract and in his 13th season. As long as he stays healthy, he should be able to live up to his contract. Remember, that $17 million in 2020 will be a relatively small amount by then, so he will not need to produce at his current level to be worth it.
The Brewers Might Be Buyers At The Deadline
This myth is not very widespread yet, but I have been hearing it a bit recently. It has to do with how well the Brewers have been doing so far this season.
This myth is all about optimism this year. The Brewers are close to .500, their pitching has really turned things around, and they are only 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They are competing with some pretty good teams.
If they get through this west coast trip with a couple of series wins, they may be in a position to be a playoff contender. That would put them in a position to make a move to push them over the top and get us to the playoffs. That would be good, right?
As much as we all want to make the playoffs as soon as possible, Stearns is building a team that will compete year after year. A great recent example of that would be the Astros.
The Astros lost 106 or more games from 2011-2013. They built up their farm system and had some good young players coming up. Last season, just 2 years removed from a 111-loss season, they found themselves in a pennant race. They beat the Yankees in the Wild Card Game and lost the ALDS in 5 games to the eventual World Champion Royals.
That is a great team to emulate. It is also a great example of what not to do. They made some trades at the deadline. The big one was acquiring Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. They also picked up Scott Kazmir from the A’s for minor league catcher Jacob Nottingham. Other than Fiers’ no-hitter last season, the Astros did not get much from those trades.
The Brewers, on the other hand, won with those trades. They ended up with 4 quality prospects directly (Josh Hader, Adrian Houser, Domingo Santana, and Brett Phillips) and they picked up Nottingham from the A’s.
The Astros were not patient and they mortgaged their future to win now.
The Brewers need to resist that temptation and stick to the plan this year and next. By 2018, the team should be ready to contend and also be strong enough to contend for years to come.