- In order to deal closer Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers could require a return similar to the mammoth haul the Phillies received from the Astros for Ken Giles, per Rosenthal. The rebuilding Brewers and Jeffress have built a strong relationship thanks to the team’s role in helping the right-hander overcome his past marijuana issues. Because of that, Jeffress turned down major league offers from other clubs to sign a minor league contract with the Brewers two years ago, Rosenthal relays. In his first season as a closer, the 28-year-old has converted all seven save opportunities while allowing three earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. In 160 2/3 major league innings, Jeffress has compiled a 3.14 ERA to accompany an 8.4 K/9, 3.87 BB/9 and 57.1 percent ground-ball rate. Those are quality numbers, but they’re a far cry from the dominant stats Giles posted before the Astros dealt a Vincent Velasquez-headlined package for him over the winter. Giles is also three years younger than Jeffress, won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2018, and isn’t scheduled for free agency until after the 2020 season. Jeffress, meanwhile, has three arbitration-eligible years before he’ll be able to hit the open market.
The Brewers announced today that they have claimed left-hander Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres. San Diego had designated Kirkman for assignment earlier in the week after just one appearance. Kirkman, 29, allowed four runs in just an inning and a third in his lone appearance as a Padre. He’d allowed three runs on three hits and no walks with six strikeouts in six innings for San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate this season.
Milwaukee is no stranger to Kirkman, as the left-hander spent a good portion of the 2015 campaign pitching with the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. Last year, Kirkman posted a 2.81 ERA across 32 innings in that hitter-friendly environment. However, despite an impressive 34 strikeouts in that time, he also issued 28 walks, continuing control problems that have followed him for much of his professional career. Indeed, Kirkman has averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings pitched in his 374 innings at the Triple-A level. His control has been slightly better in an admittedly limited sample at the Major League level, where he has a lifetime 5.25 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 108 innings. The entirety of his Major League experience, aside from this year’s brief cameo in a Padres uniform, has come with the Rangers, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.
Tom Haudicourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that GM David Stearns tells him Kirkman is out of options and will thus join Chris Capuano as a second left-handed option in the Brewers’ big league bullpen following Sam Freeman’s recent DFA. A corresponding 25-man roster move has yet to be announced. (Apologies to our readers for previously and incorrectly writing that Kirkman had a minor league option remaining.)
- On the heels of a recent Ken Rosenthal report pertaining to Ryan Braun’s potential trade candidacy, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron speculates on a handful of clubs that could make sense as a trade partner for the Brewers. The Red Sox, White Sox and Nationals, Cameron opines, are the three best fits for Braun, though there are reasons that each club would struggle to fit Braun into the books and onto the roster. Cameron makes a reasonable case for each team, noting that Braun would deepen Boston’s bench by pushing Brock Holt to a super-utility role, and he’d be an upgrade in Chicago as well, where Avisail Garcia is effectively a replacement-level placeholder on a win-now club. Cameron concedes that the Nationals are somewhat of a stretch, but it’s hard to argue with Braun serving as an upgrade over Jayson Werth and/or Ryan Zimmerman, and pairing him with Bryce Harper in the middle of the lineup would give the Nats an imposing middle of the order duo.
Freeman, 28, gave Milwaukee some innings but not much else. Over 7 2/3 frames, he allowed 11 earned runs on 13 hits. Worse, Freeman walked more batters (nine) than he retired via strikeout (eight).
Of course, he’s done more in the past. Over the last four seasons, in fact, Freeman provided 108 2/3 frames of 3.23 ERA ball. He ought to have a shot at re-establishing himself elsewhere, though that’ll likely require a trip to Triple-A. The southpaw still sits at 94 mph with his fastball and his sky-high walk rate may just be a sample blip, as his zone percentage is right at his career mean.
The no-trade protection in Ryan Braun’s contract allows the star outfielder to block a deal to every team besides the Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins and Padres, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Like most players with partial no-trade clauses, Braun has the ability to change the teams on his no-trade list each year; last season, the Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals and Rays were the only clubs that escaped Braun’s veto power.
Braun is in his first season of a five-year, $105MM extension that he signed way back in 2011, when he still had almost five full years remaining on his previous extension with the Brewers. It’s been a roller-coaster for Braun and the Brewers ever since — superstar seasons in 2011 and 2012, a 65-game suspension in 2013 for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and some recurring injuries, particularly to his thumb.
Braun rebounded for a very productive year in 2015, though his future salary commitments have made him a possible trade chip now that the Brewers are rebuilding. That same contract, as well as Braun’s age (32) and PED history, could also just as easily limit his trade market unless the Brewers ate some salary in a trade or took on another big contract.
There are any number of reasons why a player could include or omit a team on a no-trade list, though in Braun’s case, geography could be a factor. Braun was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburbs and he went to school at the University of Miami, which could explain why the Angels, Dodgers and Marlins didn’t appear on either no-trade list. The Dodgers and Marlins are rather unlikely trade partners, however, given that both teams are already set for corner outfielders. The Angels have a big vacancy in left field, though they may not be a fit for Braun for a variety of other reasons, as Rosenthal explained yesterday.
Braun’s southern California roots may also explain why he wouldn’t block a trade to the relatively-nearby D’Backs, Padres or Giants. It generally appears as though Braun would prefer to stay in the National League, as the Angels are the only AL team on his current veto list.
If the Brewers worked out a trade that would send Braun to a team on his no-trade list, of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean the former NL MVP would choose to remain in Milwaukee. He could decide to join a contender rather than stick it out through the Brewers’ rebuilding process. Like other players with no-trade protection, Braun could ask for more financial incentive in order to allow a deal to be consummated. Braun’s deal contains a $15MM mutual option for the 2021 season that can be bought out for $4MM, so it’s possible he could ask to have that option year guaranteed to allow a trade to happen, though that would be a tough ask to give him another $11MM in his age-37 season.
Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez, Padres right fielder Matt Kemp and Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun have all helped their respective trade values early this season, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Ramirez is the only one of the three whose offensive production was subpar in April, but Cafardo points to his hustle, enthusiasm and dedication to the team this year as reasons for his improved stock. The 31-year-old Kemp – signed through 2019 at $21.5MM annually – is the most available of the trio, per Cafardo, who adds that he could be a target of the Red Sox if Chris Young doesn’t start playing better. On the notion of acquiring any of them, a National League general manager told Cafardo, “Are they all $20 million-plus players? I’d say not. You’d have to be able to get them for $10 million-$15 million. There are different ways to reach that number through negotiation and the caliber of players you’d have to give up.”
Brewers star left fielder Ryan Braun can veto a trade to all teams except the Dodgers, Angels, Marlins, Rays and Nationals, but the idea of rebuilding Milwaukee dealing him “is becoming more realistic,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (video link). Braun, 32, will have four years and $76MM left on his contract after this season, and Rosenthal believes he’d make plenty of sense as a complement to Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun in the Angels’ outfield. However, the Angels’ dearth of quality prospects and a potential reluctance on owner Arte Moreno’s part to acquire Braun, given his contract and past suspension for PEDs, are factors that could stand in the way of a trade, Rosenthal adds.
- Though he started the Brewers’ third game of the season, right-hander Taylor Jungmann was optioned to Triple-A by Milwaukee today, the team announced. The 26-year-old made a very strong debut in 2015, logging 119 1/3 innings with a 3.77 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate, but he’s struggled tremendously in 2016. Thus far, Jungmann has yielded 21 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings, and he’s walked as many batters as he’s struck out (13). His velocity is also down two and a half miles per hour from last season. The Brewers called up reliever David Goforth in the interim, but they’ll need to make a move to add another starter in advance of Jungmann’s next would-be turn in the rotation, which would come on Tuesday. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy points out (on Twitter), Jungmann now faces the unenviable task of attempting to find the solution to his struggles in one of the game’s least-favorable pitching environments: Colorado Springs.
11:20am: Manager Craig Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Gennett has a “mild” strain of his oblique (Twitter link). Counsell’s early expectation is that Gennett will be out three weeks, which would be on the low end of the typical recovery time frame for oblique strains.
10:36am: The Brewers announced this morning that second baseman Scooter Gennett has been placed on the disabled list due to right oblique tightness. In his place, the club has selected the contract of infielder Hernan Perez from Triple-A Colorado Springs and transferred Matt Garza to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Gennett, 25, has been one of Milwaukee’s more productive hitters thus far, batting .258/.361/.516 with four homers through 18 games (72 plate appearances). There’s no timeline on his return just yet, though an oblique issue could conceivably sideline him for up to a month, depending on the severity of the issue. Jarrod Dyson recently missed six weeks with a Grade II oblique strain, though the club has labeled Gennett’s injury simply as “oblique tightness” for the time being.
Perez, also 25, was hitting .339/.364/.484 in one of the best hitters’ environments in the minor leagues, but he doesn’t have that type of track record in the Majors, where he has posted a collective .235/.251/.307 batting line in 351 trips to the plate. He’ll combine with Yadiel Rivera and Rule 5 pickup Colin Walsh to cover Gennett’s time at second base.
Garza’s transfer to the 60-day disabled list confirms that he won’t return to the club within his initial timeline of four to six weeks. The veteran right-hander hit the disabled list with a strained lat muscle earlier this month and has yet to pitch for the Brewers in 2016. Garza is in the third season of a four-year, $50MM contract with Milwaukee which also contains a complex fifth-year option that is largely dependent on the health of his right arm. (The $5MM club option turns into a $13MM vesting option if Garza throws 110 games over the course of the contract’s first four seasons but also shrinks to just a $1MM option if he spends more than 130 days of a season on the disabled list.) The Brewers owe Garza approximately $23.36MM over the remainder of that contract through the end of the 2017 season. He’s earning $12.5MM this year and will earn the same in 2017. At this point, his best-case scenario for a return would be early June. While Milwaukee may have had some hope of Garza pitching well for the first half of the season in order to emerge as a viable trade chip, he won’t have much time to build up value before this season’s Aug. 1 trade deadline rolls around.
- Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett was scratched from tonight’s lineup due to oblique tightness, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. There’s no immediate word on the severity of the injury. Gennett is off to a hot start this season, batting .258/.361/.516 this year after mostly struggling in 2015.