According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Milwaukee Brewers are open for business following the departure of Craig Counsell, who was named the next manager of the Chicago Cubs after they offered him an unprecedented five-year, $40 million contract.
“Those sources, briefed on the Brewers’ discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly, say the team is open to moving virtually any player on its roster,” Rosenthal writes. “The process effectively has begun, with the Brewers sending outfielder Mark Canha to the Detroit Tigers for a pitching prospect. A continued teardown, considering the Brewers’ current position, would not be without logic. It might even be the proper course.”
Alex Anthopoulos has shown in the past that he is much more comfortable working trades than paying for high priced players in free agency. There’s always risk involved when moving high quality prospects, but there’s less financial risk, which can have a worse impact long-term. The Braves and Brewers were also involved in a blockbuster trade last offseason, which landed Sean Murphy in Atlanta and William Contreras in Milwaukee. It was a win-win for both sides, and that familiarity can go a long way in completing future deals.
So, what might the Brewers have to offer that could pique the interest of Alex Anthopoulos? Let’s start with the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner.
With this news, there’s virtually no chance Corbin Burnes is on the Brewers roster at the start of the 2024 season. He has just one year remaining on his deal, and there was clearly some friction between the two sides when the Brewers chose to take him to arbitration last year. Burnes will also be highly coveted by every competing team. Since becoming a full-time starting pitcher for the Brewers, he owns a 2.86 ERA over 102 starts. The Braves don’t have a ton of assets to make a deal of this magnitude, but if they are willing to include one of AJ Smith-Shawver or Hurston Waldrep, they could probably get a deal done.
Peralta may not be on the same level as Corbin Burnes, but he’s even more valuable because of his affordable contract. He’s owed $5.5 million in 2024 and has two club options for 2025 and 2026 at $8 million. For a starting pitcher that owns a 3.41 ERA since 2021, it’s one of the better bargains in the game. Like all general managers, Anthopoulos highly covets cost-controlled starting pitchers. It will cost a lot in terms of prospects, but the Braves should have enough to get a deal done.
Earlier this offseason, I talked about Willy Adames as a potential trade fit for the Braves. Addressing the shortstop position isn’t necessarily a must, but Orlando Arcia certainly could be significantly upgraded from.
Adames isn’t going to hit for a high average, but he packs a lot of pop, hitting 24+ homers in each of the last three seasons. He’s miles ahead of Arcia offensively and also significantly better defensively. Adames would be an all-around upgrade, and the Brewers could be interested in dealing him if they feel like they will not be able to re-sign him.
Now that we know the Brewers are open for business, Adames is another player that is highly likely to be dealt. He’ll cost more than Arcia and will be a free agent next offseason, so the Braves would have to be open to the idea of paying him in free agency, which wasn’t the case for Dansby Swanson. However, there’s no questioning that he would make the Braves infinitely better in 2024.
In terms of holes, the Brewers match up perfectly with the Braves. The only position that must be filled going into the offseason is left field, and the Brewers have an intriguing option with Christian Yelich. He hasn’t performed like the MVP candidate he once was in 2018-2019, but he was much better in 2023, hitting .278 with 19 homers and an .818 OPS. There are some obstacles, however.
Yelich is owed $26 million over the next four seasons with a $20 million mutual option for 2029. That’s a massive overpay for the way he has performed recently, but the Brewers would likely be willing to eat a large chunk of that. Yelich also has a full no-trade clause, but I would imagine he would wave that to come to a team like the Braves.
The Braves could really make their bullpen one of the best in baseball with the acquisition of Devin Williams, who has been nothing short of dominant since entering the league in 2019. He owns a career 1.89 ERA in 219 relief appearances. Plus, he comes with two more years of affordable team control. Williams is one of the few relievers in the game worthy of giving up top prospects to acquire.
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