The Brewers were active at the trade deadline, but perhaps not in the way their fans were hoping for. They traded the under-performing Jesús Aguilar to the Rays for Jake Faria, and then acquired Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black from the Giants in exchange for prospect Mauricio Dubón, who recently became the first player born in Honduras to play in the major leagues. Finally, they decided to bring back Jordan Lyles. These are not exactly the impact moves that their fans were probably hoping they would make.
It is no surprise that the Brewers’ starting rotation needs some help, but their bullpen needs it too. It was one of the best in baseball last year but has fallen to more of middle of the pack. Aguilar presented with a way to help with that.
Aguilar was acquired by the Brewers basically for free last year, and he rewarded them by hitting .274/.352/.539 with 35 home runs. Unfortunately, he has taken a huge step back this year, hitting just .225/.320/.374 with only eight home runs, which is really surprisingly given the liveliness of the ball. His .301 wOBA was down 73 points from last year.
Faria has experience starting, but he has been underwhelming in that role with a 4.40 RA9 and subpar peripherals, so he will likely join the bullpen whenever the Brewers call him up from Triple A. He has a 2.70 RA9 in only ten innings in that role this year, but he has already given up two home runs and walked seven. There does not seem to be much of a ceiling here for Faria, and if Aguilar rediscovers his 2018 self in Tampa Bay, it will make this move look pretty bad. It is not that this was a bad trade necessarily, so much as that it has significant chance to make the Brewers regret it.
Pomeranz’s first season with the Giants was disastrous. He had a 6.37 RA9 and 10.3 BB% over 17 starts before getting demoted to the bullpen, where he has yet to give up a run and has been outstanding, but he has only pitched 6 1⁄3 innings. The Brewers decided to keep him there, and I am sure he is hoping to boost his value before he hits free agency this winter.
I was surprised to see that Ray Black was a prospect of note despite being 29 years old. He throws in the upper-nineties but can’t command it. It is entirely possible that he does not see any major league action for the rest of the year.
An old prospect and a rental whose performance going forward in the bullpen is tough to project is not a great return for Dubón. Prospect analysts do not expect him to be a star, but he could be a regular at shortstop, or more likely, second base. The Giants, on the other hand, should be thrilled—he could be Joe Panik’s successor at second base next season.
Somewhat surprisingly, Lyles was the only move the Brewers made to improve their rotation. Ironically, he was on the team last year, and they could have retained him but chose not to, even though it would have only cost the team $3.5 million.
Lyles had a 5.79 RA9 in Pittsburgh though that is mostly the result of his last five starts since returning from a hamstring injury. He has gotten killed by the juiced ball, too, having given up 16 home runs so far this season. They bought low on him by parting with 2015 second round pick Cody Ponce, whose stock has fallen considerably since then. Lyles was solid in his first start back with the Brewers, tossing five innings of one-run ball while striking out four and walking two. If he does not work out in the rotation, the team can send him back to the bullpen where he was pretty effective for them last year.
The Brewers are currently only a game over .500. They are in third place and four games out of first, as well as on the outside looking in for what is turning out to be a very competitive NL Wild Card race. As a team with only a 24.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs, I imagine that their fans were probably hoping for them to do more at the deadline. The thing is that I do not know how much better they could have done given the current state of their farm system, though to be fair, their recent success is due to the team making good use of that system. They are still a good team, though, and nobody should count them out just yet.
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Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.