Still leading the NL Central – BY A MEAGER HALF-GAME, AND TIED IN THE LOSS COLUMN – after having put together a tremendous first half, and having gone all out on the positional side this offseason, the Brewers are as good a bet as any team to go after a starting pitcher this trade season.
Your very reasonable concern as a Cubs fan is that they’ll put together a sweet, steal of a deal for an ace like Jacob deGrom, who should be made available if the Mets have any sense at all.
But, it’s also possible the Brewers will be setting their sights a little lower, and a little shorter term:
According to a source, the Blue Jays have been extensively scouting the Brewers' system. J.A. Happ could be on Milwaukee's radar, as the Brewers need a starter and the lefty is one of the top arms expected to be traded this month.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 2, 2018
The 35-year-old lefty has seen something of a career renaissance with the Blue Jays (with a brief layover with the Pirates), and has been a perfectly solid – good, even – starting pitcher for four years running. By the peripherals, this might be the best season of his career so far, with a 26.3% strikeout rate, a 6.7% walk rate, and a 28.9% hard contact rate. Dude has been really good.
He’s making $13 million this year, before becoming a free agent after the season. That may benefit the Brewers, as, just like in the offseason, there will be some artificial limits on how much salary certain contenders can take on thanks to the luxury tax cap. The Brewers don’t have a similar consideration, though money is always tight, and the Blue Jays may prefer to send along some money to get a better return anyway.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this one, as any upgrade for the Brewers will necessarily impact the Cubs (even if the Cubs don’t ultimately get involved in the starting pitcher trade market).
Moreover, it’ll be interesting to see if the Blue Jays are willing to move early with one of the most attractive rental starting pitchers (there’s always risk in waiting with a pitcher), or if they’ll want to keep things closer to the deadline to see if more buyers emerge. Much of the market is already moving early.