Across baseball, the Brewers have one of the most feared pitching staffs. The organization has a knack for developing great pitchers. They also do a great job at finding out what works best for each player in order to make them successful.
As a team, the Brewers finished with the third lowest ERA in 2021. The starting rotation is headlined by Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Brandon Woodruff finished fifth in Cy Young voting and third starter Freddy Peralta did not pitch enough innings to qualify, but had an incredible season.
To round out the rotation are pitchers Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer. Both are expected to have big roles in 2022. Houser is coming off a career year and Lauer had one of the lowest ERA’s in the second half last season. Aaron Ashby also figures to be in the mix along with prospect Ethan Small, who advanced to the Triple-A level in 2021.
In the bullpen, three time reliever of the year Josh Hader is the teams closer. Devin Williams possesses the best changeup in the game and is a trusted high leverage arm. Pitchers such as Brent Suter and Jake Cousins will be in the mix as well.
With a surplus of pitching talent, should the Brewers look to trade from an area of strength in order to improve the offense?
An article posted by MLB trade rumors also recently evaluated this. In theory it makes sense. The Brewers offense was sub-par last season and could use a boost. They already added outfielder Hunter Renfroe prior to the lockout, but could look to improve in the infield. Rowdy Tellez is currently the favorite to get the most playing time at first base and Luis Urias at third base.
Tellez busted onto the scene with the Crew about mid-season after Daniel Vogelbach got injured. He had several clutch moments and hit two long balls in the post-season. Urias had an up and down season but ultimately put together a nice offensive season. He was very productive at the plate to the tune of a 111 OPS+, 75 RBI’s, and defensively he appeared most comfortable at third base.
Both Matt Olson and Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics have been rumored to be available and would be upgrades at their positions. However, acquiring either of those players, or a different player via trade, would come at a steep cost. In order to pull a off a deal like that, odds are the Brewers would have to part ways with some of their pitchers.
Which pitchers could be considered in a potential trade?
Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta are all without a doubt untouchable. Rumors fly every off-season about a Josh Hader trade, but odds are he will stay put as well. The candidates whom most realistically would be involved in a trade would be the back of the rotation starters or prospects.
Houser and Lauer come to mind as two players who could potentially be used to influence a trade. Both pitchers are entering their first years of arbitration and as it stands today would be not be free agents until the conclusion of the 2024 season. Lefties Ashby and Small could also be considered for they might be able to reel in a more renowned player. Ashby got a taste of the big leagues in 2021 whereas Small did not. Both project to make an impact at the major league level in 2022.
Other pitching prospects could be considered as well. However, if the Brewers truly do decide to trade from their pitching depth to improve the offense, odds are they will have to part ways with a well known player in the organization.