- 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.
- The Brewers have announced that a pair of prospects have inched closer to the minor leagues, with lefty Wei-Chung Wang moving from Double-A Biloxi to Triple-A Colorado Springs and righty Devin Williams heading from Class A Wisconsin to Class A+ Brevard County. Wang was only 20 and had never played above the Gulf Coast League when the Brewers selected him in the Rule 5 Draft in 2013. He predictably struggled in big-league action the next year and looked like he might become a cautionary tale about how the Rule 5 Draft can derail a player’s development if he isn’t ready for the big leagues. Since then, though, he has since worked his way back through the Brewers’ system to reestablish himself as a prospect, posting a 3.52 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 107 1/3 innings with Biloxi this season. The 21-year-old Williams, the Brewers’ first selection in the 2013 draft, posted a 3.61 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 72 1/3 innings for Wisconsin.
- The Brewers will place Junior Guerra on the 15-day DL on Tuesday due to right elbow inflammation, manager Craig Counsell told media (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Wily Peralta had already been announced as the starter for Tuesday’s game, taking Guerra’s scheduled turn in the rotation. Guerra, a 31-year-old rookie, has been a surprise breakout performer for Milwaukee this season, posting a 2.93 ERA, 7.55 K/9 and 2.43 K/9 over 107 1/3 innings for the Brew Crew.
Brewers general manager David Stearns spoke with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the difference between the would-be return for the vetoed Jonathan Lucroy trade with the Indians and the actual return he received from the Rangers in exchange for Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. While Milwaukee will end up with three players in exchange for Lucroy and Jeffress in the Rangers trade (as opposed to the four they’d have received from Cleveland for Lucroy alone), the Brewers landed players that are much closer to the big leagues in Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz than they would’ve in a Cleveland package that was headlined by Class-A catcher Francisco Mejia. Stearns also added that he’d received “indications” that Lucroy would approve a trade to Cleveland, though he declined to get into specifics about those indications and what they entailed. Lucroy’s rejection of the trade didn’t alter negotiations with other clubs much, according to Stearns, who tells Haudricourt that there was a robust market for his now-former catcher both before and after talks with Cleveland.
There’s been a great deal written about the reasons behind Jonathan Lucroy’s decision to invoke his no-trade clause in order to veto a trade to the Indians, and Lucroy himself has elected to set the record straight, as told to ESPN.com’s Robert Sanchez. The entire explanation is well worth a look for any fan, but Cleveland fans feeling jilted by Lucroy will especially want to take a look to read his own take.
When first informed by Brewers GM David Stearns that he’d been traded, Lucroy said he wasn’t informed which team had struck a deal to acquire him, as medical information needed to be examined before anything could be finalized. He assumed, however, that he’d been dealt to a club that didn’t appear on his no-trade list, as he wasn’t asked about waiving the clause at the time. When Lucroy’s agent, Doug Rogalski, learned it was Cleveland who had the agreement, he called Lucroy to inform him. As Lucroy says…
“I was surprised, but I wanted to keep an open mind. Great team. Competitive team. There’s a real chance to win. Doug called Chris Antonetti, the Indians’ president. There was one thing we wanted to know: What was my future with the Indians? We knew Cleveland already had a good catcher, Yan Gomes, who’s injured right now. He’s getting paid more than me, and he’s younger than me. We knew they’d probably want him catching almost every day next year. Heck, if I were the general manager in Cleveland, I’d want Gomes catching every day.
We were right. Antonetti told Doug that the Indians couldn’t make any promises on me catching next season. There was no way they’d drop the team option, either, because I’m pretty inexpensive in 2017. I don’t blame them. I would have been mostly at first base and designated hitter.”
Lucroy stresses that the decision was not because of any negative feelings he harbors toward the city of Cleveland, Indians fans or the Indians organization. He, in fact, was sure to state that he actually respects the organization even more now due to Antonetti’s honesty: “He could have lied to my agent and said I’d play catcher every day next season. … He told the truth. I’m thankful for that.”
Lucroy calls the decision to reject the trade purely economic, believing that teams wouldn’t place as high of a value on him as a free agent if it had been more than a calendar year since he’d regularly been catching games. He also expressed a basic love for the position of catcher — his regular spot on the diamond since he was 12 years old — and spoke about the difficulty he had when thinking of not manning the spot on a near-daily basis in 2017. Lucroy goes on to discuss the uneasiness of waiting to find out if he’d be traded, the impact that the talks had on his wife and young daughter, the emotion he felt in his final at-bat as a member of the Brewers and the relief he felt not only from being traded to a contending club but one that is close to his offseason home in Louisiana. “I know I had nothing to do with the Rangers getting to where they are now, but I want to have a lot to do with finishing the job,” he closes.
Again, readers are strongly encouraged to check out Lucroy’s full statements, as they provide a behind-the-curtain look at the thoughts, emotion and stress that fans and the media alike will often take for granted when discussing trades.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The Brewers have announced the release of right-hander Ariel Pena, who was the last remaining piece in the organization from its 2012 trade with the Angels that sent Zack Greinke to Los Angeles. Milwaukee also received infielder Jean Segura and righty Johnny Hellweg in that deal. Pena threw 29 innings with the Brewers and logged a 5.59 ERA, 8.38 K/9 and 4.97 BB/9. The 27-year-old has struggled mightily at the Triple-A level in 2016, having recorded an 8.36 ERA and 7.65 BB/9 in 37 2/3 frames.
- The Braves announced last night that they would selected the contract of righty Roberto Hernandez, who will start tonight against the Cardinals. (They cleared a roster space earlier today when they shipped reliever Hunter Cervenka to the Marlins.) The pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona has pitched for two Triple-A teams this year, combining for a 4.60 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He hasn’t yet appeared in the big leagues in 2016, but he appeared in all of the previous ten seasons, pitching to a career 4.58 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 56.5% ground ball rate.
- The Pirates are expected to select the contract of Curtis Partch, MLB.com’s Adam Berry notes (Twitter links). Partch will take the roster spot of fellow hard-throwing righty Arquimedes Caminero, who was traded to the Mariners today. It’s possible Partch’s stay in the big leagues could be short, however, since the team intends to move starter Jeff Locke to the bullpen and will require an extra starter later this week. Partch has a 2.05 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He also made one appearance with the Pirates, allowing three runs without retiring a batter.
- The Red Sox have requested release waivers on lefty Tommy Layne, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald tweets. Boston designated Layne for assignment this week to make room for Fernando Abad after Layne posted a 3.77 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 28 2/3 innings while struggling against lefties.
Well-regarded prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz headlined the package the Brewers received from the Rangers on Monday in exchange for catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress. Not to be forgotten, Texas also agreed to include a player to be named later, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link) characterizes that player as “a significant piece” who could be along the lines of Brinson and Ortiz – both of whom rank among Baseball America’s 75 best prospects. The reason Milwaukee didn’t land the player Monday is because the two teams ran out of time before they could agree on whom it would be, leaving the Brewers to eventually choose one from a list the Rangers provided them.
The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Ben Rowen, who was designated for assignment by Toronto following Monday’s acquisitions of Francisco Liriano and Scott Feldman, has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers. He’ll head to Triple-A, according to an announcement from the Brewers.
Rowen, 27, has spent the entire season with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate and posted a very strong 2.47 ERA with 6.3 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 47 1/3 innings of relief. Rowen’s submarine arm slot makes it exceptionally difficult to elevate the ball against him, as evidenced by the mere eight home runs he’s surrendered in 374 innings at the minor league level (0.2 HR/9). He’s generated ground-balls at a 64.9 percent rate this season at the Triple-A level and boasts a strong 1.85 ERA in his minor league career.
The Brewers are promoting top prospect Orlando Arcia prior to today’s game, the team announced overnight. Rays outfielder Oswaldo Arcia — Orlando’s older brother — first suggested as much by welcoming his younger brother to the Majors on Instagram.
[Related: Updated Milwaukee Brewers Depth Chart]
Arcia, 21, will take over as the Brewers’ shortstop, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes, thereby pushing Jonathan Villar over to third base. Arcia ranked seventh, 13th, 14th and 16th on the respective midseason rankings of the game’s top overall prospects from Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, Baseball America and ESPN. Arcia draws huge amounts of praise for his defense at shortstop, his speed and his hit tool, giving him the potential to be a top-of-the-order hitter with Gold Glove caliber defense at a premium position if all pans out. He hasn’t exactly forced his way onto the roster with outstanding play at the Triple-A level like many top-tier prospects do, as he’s batted a modest .267/.320/.403 in a very hitter-friendly environment (the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs). He’s extremely young to already have spent several months in Triple-A, though, and his perhaps underwhelming 2016 results clearly didn’t cause him to slip down prospect rankings much.
“The thinking is it’s time to get him started,” manager Craig Counsell tells McCalvy. “We’ve still got  games left, a good chunk of the season left, where we’re hopeful that it gives him good experience going into next year. I think it’s a little shot in the arm for us, a little boost for us, as well.”
If he’s in the Majors for good, Arcia will accrue 62 days of big league service in 2016 and fall well shy of Super Two status down the line. He currently projects to be controllable through the 2022 season and wouldn’t be eligible for arbitration until the completion of the 2019 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The first-place Rangers are all-in, acquiring All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers for outfielder Lewis Brinson, pitcher Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named later. Rangers slugger Joey Gallo had previously appeared to be part of the deal, but it turns out he was not included.
Lucroy, 30, provides the Rangers with a massive upgrade behind the plate over incumbents Robinson Chirinos and Bobby Wilson. Drafted out of the University of Louisiana in the third round in 2007, Lucroy spent his entire seven-year career with the Brewers. He made the All-Star team in 2014 and again this year, with a .299/.359/.482 line in 376 plate appearances in 2016. By measure of wins above replacement, the Rangers are getting the third-best catcher in baseball. After the 2011 season, when Lucroy had less than two years of Major League service, the Brewers signed him to a five-year, $11MM contract extension with a $5.25MM club option for 2017. That contract has turned out to be an incredible bargain for the Brewers. The Indians reached an agreement to acquire Lucroy on Saturday, but the catcher exercised his no-trade clause after Cleveland was reportedly unwilling to eliminate his bargain-priced club option. After that trade fell through, the Mets also made a play for Lucroy. The Rangers ultimately won the bidding, and have added both Lucroy and Carlos Beltran to their offense today.
The Rangers also acquired Jeffress, a 28-year-old right-handed reliever with 27 saves on the season. Jeffress was drafted by the Brewers in the first round in 2006 and went to the Royals in the December 2010 Zack Greinke blockbuster. After struggling with that organization, the Blue Jays acquired Jeffress for cash considerations in November 2012. By April of 2013, he was removed from the Jays’ 40-man roster. After another stint on and off the Jays’ roster, Jeffress became a free agent and signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in April 2014. He joined the big league team in July of that year, and that’s when his career began to blossom. Armed with a fastball that averages over 95 miles per hour, Jeffress ascended to the Brewers’ closer job this year and has posted a 2.22 ERA in 44 2/3 innings. He’s controllable through 2019 for the Rangers. While the Rangers’ bullpen has struggled overall this year, Jeffress, Sam Dyson, Tony Barnette, Jake Diekman, and Matt Bush are a formidable unit.
In Brinson, the Brewers added a 22-year-old minor league outfielder universally regarded among the top 30 prospects in the game. He’s hitting just .237/.280/.431 at Double-A this year, battling a shoulder strain. Still, according to ESPN’s Keith Law, “Brinson is an elite defensive center fielder who doesn’t have to hit much to have value in the majors and who has All-Star potential if he hits enough to get to his plus-plus power.” The Rangers also added Ortiz, generally regarded as a top 60 prospect. The 20-year-old righty currently has a 4.08 ERA in Double-A, and Law says he “shows an above-average fastball, plus changeup, and above-average control already.”
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, T.R. Sullivan and Jon Morosi of MLB.com, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News broke the story. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.