The Brewers and Marlins are “engaged in ongoing dialogue” about Miami right-hander Dan Straily, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network (on Twitter). Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald first noted the Brewers’ interest in Straily.
A report Friday indicated that the Marlins had taken Straily off the market after briefly shopping him, yet they continue to discuss him as Monday’s trade deadline nears. In theory, Straily should represent a cheaper alternative to the Athletics’ Sonny Gray, the most desirable controllable starter available. However, one National League executive told Jon Heyman of FanRag that the Marlins have placed a “Sonny Gray type price” on Straily, whom they seemingly want to keep.
Straily is “no Sonny Gray,” one rival exec told Heyman, but he’d still bring back a legitimate return in his own right. The 28-year-old is an established major league starter who’s making a near-minimum salary now and comes with arbitration eligibility through 2020, so moving him would help the Marlins restock their fallow farm system.
After logging appealing results in Cincinnati last year, where he registered a 3.76 ERA, 7.62 K/9 and a 3.43 BB/9 over 191 1/3 innings, Straily went to the Marlins in an offseason trade involving righty Luis Castillo and has fared well again in 2017. Straily has thrown 117 1/3 frames and recorded a 3.84 ERA, 8.21 K/9 and a 2.53 BB/9. While Straily’s ground-ball rate is at just 34.4 percent (up from 32 percent a year ago), he has offset that with a 14.4 percent infield fly mark that ranks No. 1 among major league starters.
As was the case last year, ERA indicators such as FIP (4.38), xFIP (4.65) and SIERA (4.32) aren’t really buying into Straily’s success, and he’s once again benefiting from a low batting average on balls in play (.272 this season, .239 in 2016). Statcast data paints a rosier picture, though: Straily’s weighted on-base average against is a strong .318, but his xwOBA is an even better .298, per Baseball Savant (Gray’s is a strikingly similar .296).
Thanks to Straily’s performance and affordable control, it’s easy to see why teams – including the Brewers – would want him. Milwaukee has lost nine of 14 since the All-Star break to fall to 55-50 and lose its grip on the National League Central, which the Cubs now lead by a half-game, and seen its playoff odds dwindle significantly. While a postseason trip might not be in the cards for the upstart Brewers this year, acquiring Straily would give them a third proven big league starter who’s under wraps at palatable costs through 2020. The team already has Chase Anderson, who’s soon to return from a lengthy absence stemming from an oblique injury, and Jimmy Nelson. Adding Straily to that duo would ostensibly increase the Brewers’ chances to contend this season and in future years.