After three straight one run losses in Philadelphia, as well as a sweep in Cincinnati to finish off a winless six game road trip, Danny Knobler of CBS reports that the Milwaukee Brewers are open for business. The Brewers are now nine games under .500, 13 games out in the NL Central, and 11 back of the Pirates for the second wild card slot in the National League.
Now, just because the Brewers are selling, don't think that they're going to deal off *every* asset on their team. For instance, Ryan Braun is going nowhere. I also don't think Yovani Gallardo will be moved, as he's under contract until the 2014 season and is a solid top of the rotation starter for the Brewers. Rickie Weeks, mired in the worst season of his career, could be moved under the right circumstances…but I think that would be a case of Milwaukee selling low as opposed to maximizing value.
The best piece that the Brewers have right now is (obviously) starter Zack Greinke, now the elite pitcher on the market after Cole Hamels re-upped in Philly late last night. The trade of Anibal Sanchez sets the market for Greinke. Sanchez took an elite prospect in Jacob Turner to acquire, You're not going to pick Greinke up from Milwaukee with a modest assortment of prospects, like in each of the Phillies' Cliff Lee trades, or the Roy Halladay deal. You're going to need a bona fide stud to pry Greinke from Milwaukee's grasp. If you're the Rangers, you're not getting away without giving up Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, or Maritn Perez. If you're Atlanta, be prepared to bid farewell to Julio Teheran as opposed to Randall Delgado. And if you're the White Sox…well, the White Sox don't have any great prospects, so they'd need to get creative to bring Greinke to the south side.
The rest of the Brewers' ptiching staff doesn't possess a ton of value. The possibility of trading Shaun Marcum pretty much went to Hell when he went on the DL with an elbow injury. Veteran Randy Wolf has pitched himself out of a solid return this season with an ERA in the mid-5.00 range. Veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez has also pitched himself out of a good return after a disastrous week in Philadelphia, and former closer John Axford has struggled this year, but has shown signs of promise…I don't think Milwaukee would be too eager to trade Axford, though.
On offense, there are some interesting names on this Brewers team, headed by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez could be a nice option for a team that isn't willing to pony up to the high demands of the Padres for Chase Headley. Ramirez is signed for 2013 and 2014 as well, which could give teams more incentive to trade for him. Ramirez is also having a good year after dealing with injuries an ineffectiveness over his final three years in Chicago. Outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart is a guy that could interest teams due to his versatility, and his contract that takes him through 2013.
Milwaukee can also help out teams looking for bench help, with guys like the volatile Nyjer Morgan, on-base machine catcher George Kottaras, and perhaps even utilitymen like Travis Ishikawa, Cesar Izturis, and Cody Ransom.
The Brewers have had a disappointing year in 2012 so far, and with Greinke's time with the team ending, the rest of the team's interesting assets are likely to go with him. It's not exactly an ideal situation for the defending NL Central champions, but it's looking like the most likely scenario.
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