The Milwaukee Brewers need pitching and the Cleveland Indians need outfield help, how the two solve each others problems via trade.
Milwaukee surprised the league last week, ignoring the frozen MLB hot-stove, and swiftly improving their outfield by acquiring Christian Yelich via trade with the Marlins and signing veteran Lorenzo Cain to a four-year deal.
And while it’s hard to argue the Brewers are not a better team after these moves, they did neglect to address Milwaukee’s need to improve their rotation. With 2017 break-out starter Jimmy Nelson still likely to miss the start of the season, along with the lack of a true staff ace, the team targeted top free agent starter Yu Darvish.
The Brew-Crew are still in the hunt for Darvish, but with reports citing either the Cubs or Twins as favorites to sign the Japanese star, Milwaukee would presumably be better served to weigh other options. While they will target other free agent arms like Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn, there are some other options via trade that could garner more appeal from Milwaukee.
One team that comes to mind is the Cleveland Indians, who happen to have a surplus of starters. The likely target for the Brewers would be 28-year-old RHP Danny Salazar, who had a promising 2015 season, finishing with a 3.45 ERA and registered a 3.1 WAR.
However, since Salazar’s breakout season, the flame-throwing righty has struggled to stay healthy – only throwing over 140 innings once in his five seasons in Cleveland.
What makes these two a match?
Paul Hoynes from Cleveland.com, speculated that both sides had been in contact at some point this off-season, but Hoynes also said that the Indians have been patient with Salazar during the recovery process. With the Indians investing a lot of time and confidence in Salarzar, to part with him, they would need to address a position of weakness. Enter Milwaukee’s outfield depth.
With the addition of Yelich and Cain to the Brewers outfield, current outfielders Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton are now expendable. Santana, in particular, would add a powerful right-handed bat to a lineup that is lefty-dominated.
The 25-year-old slugger crushed 30 home runs last season in Miller Park, walked in 12 percent of his at bats, and an OPS of .875, but that likely isn’t enough for the Indians to part with Salazar.
However, if the Brewers were to absorb veteran 2nd baseman Jason Kipnis and his remaining $28 million he’s owed over the next two seasons, the deal starts to make more sense. The Brewers could also sweeten the deal by adding one of their five prospects in MLB pipeline top 100 prospects.
For now, this trade remains just speculation. But if the Brewers do indeed miss out on Darvish, expect Milwaukee GM David Stearns to explore all options in an attempt to add pitching. And don’t be surprised if the Indians pop up in discussions involving the Brewers outfielders as we rumble towards spring training.