- Since joining the Brewers organization, Lewis Brinson has been on fire, entering today’s action with a 1.099 OPS over 68 plate appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that Brinson could be a September callup for the Brew Crew, though the club’s outfield is already pretty crowded. Brinson was the centerpiece of the trade package (fellow top prospect Luis Ortiz and a player to be named later) Milwaukee acquired in the deadline blockbuster that sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers.
The prospects the Brewers have acquired during their rebuild have drawn plenty of attention, but the work general manager David Stearns did buying low on veterans during his first offseason at the helm shouldn’t be overlooked, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. The two biggest success stories resulting from Stearns’ offseason dumpster diving are shortstop/third baseman Jonathan Villar and right-hander Junior Guerra, while reliever Carlos Torres has also been a quality addition. Villar, whom the Brewers acquired from Houston in November for pitching prospect Cy Sneed, has stolen the second-most bases in the league (50) and hit .297/.378/.434 with 10 home runs in 546 trips to the plate. The 31-year-old Guerra, a waiver claim from the White Sox, has been among the top rookies in baseball this year, having logged a 2.93 ERA, 7.55 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 46.1 percent ground-ball rate across 107 1/3 innings. “Some of the most rewarding moments you get in this job stem from challenging processes,” Stearns told Haudricourt. “Finding players who can contribute at the major-league level through some of the unconventional means, whether it’s waiver claims or minor-league free-agent signings, Rule 5 picks, lower-level trades, those are transactions that don’t generate a lot of public notoriety but can still have a positive effect on the organization.”
Before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers discussed a deal with the Brewers that would have sent outfielder Ryan Braun to Los Angeles, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). While Braun has since cleared waivers, meaning the Dodgers (or another team) could make a trade for him this month, that would require overcoming potential complications. For instance, any team acquiring Braun would likely want the Brewers to eat a significant portion of the $76MM left on his contract, says Rosenthal, who adds that Milwaukee might be hesitant to assist a high-revenue club like the Dodgers in paying the 32-year-old. If the Dodgers and Brewers aren’t able to swing a trade in August, they could revisit talks during the offseason.
- After Ryan Braun’s no-trade protection seemingly gummed up any inclination the Brewers may have had to trade him this summer, Heyman writes that the team is expected to explore trade scenarios this winter. Age, cost, injury history, a PED past, and the no-trade rights will make that a complicated proposition, but Braun’s .317/.380/.562 slash line holds obvious appeal.
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- Outfielder Ramon Flores has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Colorado Springs, according to an announcement from the Brewers. Milwaukee designated the 24-year-old for assignment last week after he struggled to a .205/.294/.261 batting line in 289 trips to the plate. The Brewers picked up Flores in an offseason swap that sent Luis Sardinas to the Mariners, and with Sardinas having been designated for assignment and traded himself, it’s safe to say that neither club has extracted the value it had hoped to achieve in the deal. Flores, at least, remains with the Brewers organization, though he can become a free agent this winter unless he’s placed back on the 40-man roster next month. The Venezuela native is a career .282/.376/.449 hitter in 655 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
The Pirates recalled top first base prospect Josh Bell over the weekend, and he’ll have a larger role than he had in his brief initial call-up earlier this season (three brilliant pinch-hit plate appearances), GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We brought Josh up to play a decent amount,” said Huntington of the 24-year-old Bell, who has batted a .295/.382/.468 with 14 homers in 114 Triple-A games this season. Bell’s prospect pedigree and strong minor league production, paired with a .167/.306/.250 second half from John Jaso, could well pave the way to everyday at-bats (or something close to it) down the stretch. If he can prove himself to be a consistent hitter in the Majors and one capable of playing a passable first base — Huntington tells Brink that Bell’s defense will “continue to be a work in progress” — Bell could unseat Jaso and lead the team to shop the veteran (and his two-year, $8MM contract) over the winter.
A bit more from the NL Central…
- Reds manager Bryan Price tells MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Jose Peraza could remain with the team for the rest of the year even if Zack Cozart returns quickly from a minor Achilles injury, but he stopped short of committing to the notion of Peraza sticking in the Majors through the end of the Triple-A season on Sept. 5. As Sheldon notes, Peraza was scarcely used when he spent a month and a half in the Majors earlier this summer, but he’s had a pair of multi-hit games since being recalled to fill in for Cozart at shortstop and could get looks at second base, in left field and in center field over the course of September in an effort to see what he can do with consistent playing time against MLB pitching. It would be somewhat strange for the Reds not to work him into the lineup as much as possible in order to get a better evaluation of Peraza, especially considering the fact that he can be deployed at a number of positions.
- Having watched Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi go from the 2015 draft to the Majors less than a year later, Reds third base prospect Nick Senzel said on the MLBPipeline.com podcast that he hopes for a similarly quick ascent (also via Sheldon). Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in this season’s draft, is hitting .309/.400/.545 with seven homers in 46 games with Class-A Dayton. He hasn’t been moved quite as aggressively as Bregman, who played at Class-A Advanced during his debut season, but neither Swanson nor Benintendi topped Class-A last season and both still made it to the bigs this year. “You look at those guys … get there their first full year, as a player and a college hitter that makes you hungry to get up there,” said Senzel.
- Brewers left-hander Chris Capuano isn’t likely to return to the team in 2016, GM David Stearns tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 38-year-old has been sidelined by an elbow injury since late May, and a platelet-rich plasma treatment hasn’t sped along his recovery as much as had been hoped. Stearns notes that Capuano “is still very motivated to make it back and continue his career,” so it sounds as if there’s a good chance he’ll aim to return in 2017 if he can’t do so at the tail end of the present season.
- Another Brewers southpaw, Sean Nolin, recently underwent Tommy John surgery after trying to stave off the procedure, Haudricourt further reports. He, too, tried a PRP treatment but did not improve enough to avoid a UCL replacement. Milwaukee outfielder Rymer Liriano, meanwhile, has faced slow going after being struck by a pitch in the face this spring. Though he has now begun baseball activities, Liriano won’t be able to make it to the majors this year. Instead, says Stearns, he may be able to participate in fall instructional league action.
- In an interview with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link), Brewers GM David Stearns said that his team will continue to listen to other teams about Ryan Braun. This doesn’t represent much of a change from Milwaukee’s pre-deadline stance, as the team wasn’t shopping their slugger though several teams were checking in on his availability. Even if the Brewers did want to actively move Braun, his 23-team no-trade clause is a major obstacle, especially given that Braun may have a particular desire to stay put since his family is expecting a new baby.
The Brewers have designated outfielder Ramon Flores for assignment, per a team announcement. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by fellow outfielder Domingo Santana, who is finally ready to return from the DL.
Flores, who was out of options, came to Milwaukee over the winter in the deal that sent infielder Luis Sardinas to the Mariners. He made the Opening Day roster for the Brewers, but has largely struggled thus far in 2016.
Over 289 plate appearances on the season, the 24-year-old Flores carries an anemic .205/.294/.261 batting line. Though he has played in center some, Flores hasn’t graded well there, and his bat just hasn’t shown enough life to play in the corners.
Milwaukee obviously hoped for more for the former Yankees prospect. After all, he carries an excellent .282/.376/.449 batting line over his 655 career plate appearances at Triple-A. He not only hit 16 long balls in that span, but also recorded nearly as many walks (83) as strikeouts (94). In his brief time at the major league level, though Flores has been more solid than good in the K/BB department (with about a 2:1 ratio) and has shown no pop to speak of.
The Brewers announced today that they’ve acquired veteran catcher Michael McKenry from the Braves and assigned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. While the Brewers’ announcement didn’t specify a return, it seems likely that the Braves will get some degree of cash considerations out of the swap.
McKenry, 31, will give the Crew some additional depth behind the plate to pair with the likes of Martin Maldonado, Manny Pina and recently acquired Andrew Susac. McKenry picked up a pair of plate appearances with the Cardinals earlier this season but has spent the bulk of the season playing at Triple-A, where he’s combined to bat .292/.409/.518 in 203 plate appearances with the affiliates for the Braves, Cardinals and Rangers.
Though his time in the Majors has been limited this year, McKenry comes with a great deal of big league experience. The former seventh-round pick debuted with the Rockies back in 2010 and has appeared in each MLB season since, averaging 60 games per year from 2011-15. All told, he’s a .238/.318/.406 hitter with 29 homers in 953 plate appearances as a Major Leaguer.
- While the Braves checked in with the Brewers on Ryan Braun before the deadline, talks never progressed — in large part because it didn’t seem worth pursuing given his no-trade clause. As Heyman notes, the six teams that can acquire Braun without his permission are all based upon geographic preference, and it was deemed unlikely that he’d waive his protection for a switch to Atlanta. Braun’s wife is expecting, Heyman notes, and that factor (in conjunction with the no-trade clause) may well explain why trade buzz never picked up on him this summer.