Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

gerardo parra brewersWith the Chicago Cubs likely buyers this year for the first time in the last several Trade Deadlines, we thought it would be appropriate to take a brief look at some of the teams that could become sellers. These teams could present possible fits for the Cubs should they look to improve externally.

Previously: Philadelphia Phillies.

Possible Seller

Milwaukee Brewers

Record and Standings

  • Current Record: 38-52 (.422 W%)
  • Projected End of Season Record (PECOTA): 73-89
  • Standings: Last place in NL Central, 10.5 games back of Second Wild Card

Why They Might Be Sellers

Like the Philadelphia Phillies before them, the Milwaukee Brewers have been bad enough in 2015 to all but guarantee a sell-off, if not a full rebuild. They’re in last place in one of the toughest divisions in baseball that feature three strong playoff candidates (Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs), and their star catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, has mustered a mere 0.4 WAR, partly due to injury, after posting a 6.2 WAR season just last year.

How Soon They Could Be Ready to Sell

What can you say other than, “Immediately?” There is little reason to suspect that the Brewers are waiting for anything other than the right opportunity to make a move. Their chances of making the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus, are just 0.2%. And, like I said, they are in a division that features three playoff hopefuls. Many suspected the 2014 season to go the way this season has, but the Brewers surprised early, before fading late. Perhaps, they would have been better off without the hot start last year.

Realistically Available Players That Might Interest the Cubs

  • Carlos Gomez
    • Position: Centerfielder
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 29
    • Contract: 3 years/$24M (2014-2016), about $13M left on the contract ($4M rest of 2015, $9M in 2016)
    • 2015 Stats: 267 PAs, .273/.322/.450, .330 BABIP, 4.9 BB%, 22.1 K%, 1.7 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Briefly, here.
  • Gerardo Parra
    • Position: Outfielder
    • Bats/Throws: L/L
    • Age: 28 years
    • Contract: 1 year/$6.237 M (2015), will then be a free agent
    • 2015 Stats: 300 PAs, .309/.344/.496, .345 BABIP, 5.0 BB%, 16.7 K%, 0.7 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.
  • Francisco Rodriquez
    • Position: Reliever
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 33 years
    • Contract2 years/$13M (2015-2016), plus 2017 club option for $6M ($2M buyout)
    • 2015 Stats: : 32.0 IP, 1.41 ERA (2.48 xFIP), .236 BABIP, 23.3 K-BB%, 0.5 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here and here.

Overall Fit with Cubs

I had considered including pitchers Taylor Jungmann (25), Michael Blazek (26) and Will Smith (26), but ultimately decided to omit the trio of young pitchers from the conversation. While it’s true that the Cubs are likely looking for starting and relief pitching help, it’s difficult to imagine a team, even one like the Brewers, trading young, up-and-coming players with plenty of team control left. None of these players are guys you necessarily build around, but they have plenty of value and have the potential to be present and helpful the next time the Brewers are competitive.

There haven’t been a ton of rumors connecting the three players above (Rodriguez, Parra and Gomez) and the Chicago Cubs, but there is at least a superficial fit. Rodriguez represents the older, more expensive back end type reliever that we generally expect the Cubs (and other buyers) to target this time of the year. Teams like the Brewers have no need for the “luxury” of an expensive reliever and there is a very little chance that his value will ever be any higher than it is right now. Do the Cubs want another back-end reliever? Are they willing to commit to Rodriguez’s salary? Regardless of if he makes his way to the Cubs, I expect Rodriguez to be sold aggressively this July.

Upgrading the offense, on the other hand, isn’t something we necessarily expected at the beginning of the season, but feels like something that may now be necessary. Parra and Gomez, then, represent two sides of an interesting coin. Gomez is a very valuable, talented center fielder that just about any team would love to have on their roster. Even though he isn’t having his best year (injuries have played a part), he is still young, cheap, productive, and comes with an additional year of control. Because all of that is true and he resides on a team within the Cubs division, a trade for Gomez feels unlikely. The Brewers would likely ask a lot for Gomez – and then some more, perhaps, for the in-division premium – and that may be too big a hurdle to overcome.

Parra, on the other hand, is having a fantastic year at the plate (albeit supported by an inflated BABIP), hits left handed and is approaching free agency. Like Rodriguez, Parra feels like the type of player that is frequently sold at trade deadlines for less than top tier returns. The problem you face with Parra, though, is not about acquisition cost, but about defensive alignment. Dexter Fowler is better from the right side of the plate, especially this year, so a platoon could be understandable; however, the advanced metrics suggest Parra’s been brutal in center field the last couple years. Additionally, I’m not so sure the front office or Maddon is ready to give up on Fowler turning things around. Replacing Chris Coghlan is another possibility, but he’s probably pretty good at the plate right now, despite a superficial slump recently (the peripherals are consistently strong). Parra has won two gold glove awards in left field (2011, 2013), so there is a possibility for a defensive upgrade in left.

In the end, if the Cubs did look to add a guy like Parra, he’d likely become part of a rotation, rather than an everyday starter.

Ultimately, the Cubs and Brewers line up adequately on a superficial level, but in division trades are never easy – even if we know this front office isn’t necessarily scared of them (Sean Marshall – Travis Wood). A blockbuster trade for Gomez is unlikely, but Rodriguez and Parra are plausible. Given that the Brewers are as likely as anyone to enter a full rebuild, it’s tough to identify who exactly they would target from the Cubs’ system in trade. This is going to be a trend, but given the Cubs extreme depth at multiple positions in the minors, I wouldn’t see a problem matching up with just about any team that is just trying to load up on talent.

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