In a wide open NL Central, the Brewers could be a couple key additions away from winning the division. Over the weekend the Brewers acquired veteran first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Santana. The Brewers could still use a few more bats to help a lineup that is near the bottom in nearly every major category in the NL.
With the Reds on top currently, I expect the Reds to go all-in on a contender. After the disastrous MLB Trade Deadline last year, I anticipate the Brewers being buyers, too. The Santana deal was a step that way. However, I am not anticipating a game-changing addition as the Brewers likely want to hold on to their top prospects with Burnes and Adames nearing likely exits from Milwaukee. Plus this lineup isn’t in position of “one piece away.”
Who could the Brewers acquire for a low cost but potential high impact to provide a jolt to the offense? Here are my top two targets for the Brewers at the trade deadline.
The Brewers have needed a good third baseman for what seems like forever. Candelario has had an up-and-down career but is blistering the ball at the plate this season. The 29-year-old has 16 homers, 53 RBI, has scored 57 runs, 30 doubles and has an OPS+ of 128. Candelario has a slash line of .258/.342/.481 for an .823 OPS and has racked up a 3.3 WAR. Another added benefit is Candelario is a switch hitter. Candelario had down seasons in 2018, 2019 and last year in Detroit, but Comerica Park is a horrendous offensive ballpark. He has also had some boon seasons including the COVID year with a 133 OPS+, 2021 where he led the league in 2B with 42 and obviously this season. Candelario in AmFam Field would probably help him alone. The current Nationals 3B would add much-needed depth to the Brewers’ lineup.
Also Candelario is considered a good defender at third base with four defensive runs saved above average for the position.
Candelario, though, is a coveted bat at the deadline. Well, he is a free agent after the year with so many teams interested the Brewers may be able to go higher up the prospect list for Candelario as a Jace Avina or someone who is blocked in the minors at a position of strength could do the trick.
The Marlins made a late push for 1B Carlos Santana before the Pirates sent him to the Brewers.
Now, Miami (along with the Yankees & Angels) is turning its attention to 3B Jeimer Candelario, according to @Ken_Rosenthal.
— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) July 28, 2023
Hernandez has struggled this season in Seattle. Safeco Field isn’t exactly an offensive ballpark. Hernandez could bring a spark to the Brewers offense and to his own bat by playing home games at American Family Field.
Despite some struggles Hernandez has belted 16 homers and driven in 58 runs. However, he currently has a sub-.700 OPS at .696 and has a 94 OPS+ and has struck out a league leading 141 times.
But Hernandez has a track record and was spectacular his last three years in Toronto with 146, 131- and 129 OPS+ seasons. He also is still mashing LHP this year to a .296 clip with six homers in just 88 at-bats. Another plus is despite his deficiencies this year, he still is good in clutch spots. He is hitting .315 with runners in scoring position (35-for-111), including .292 average with two outs and RISP.
Being a free agent after the season and having a bit of a down year overall, I wouldn’t think the cost would be too high to acquire Hernandez if the Mariners do decide to sell at the deadline – and it sounds like they will.
The Mariners' willingness to listen on Ty France and Teoscar Hernandez, per @BNightengale, is a significant development.
Several teams — Blue Jays, Brewers, Giants, Phillies — are looking for right-handed hitters.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 31, 2023
Duvall could bring power to the Brewers’ lineup and he can play all three outfield positions. He can play the outfield to spell a player or be a designated hitter. The 34-year-old veteran has had some big seasons, including leading the league in RBIs with 113 in 2021. Duvall is hitting .261 with nine homers and 29 RBIs with a 128 OPS+. Duvall recently came back after missing extended time with an injury. He is a free agent at season’s end so he likely won’t cost much if the Red Sox decide to move him. But, the Red Sox are in a playoff spot currently so there is no certainty they’d move Duvall.
Rosenthal said the #Brewers "want to add one more bat, and figure to grab one name off (this) list…"
Nats’ Jeimer Candelario
Mets’ Mark Canha and Tommy Pham
Mariners’ Teoscar Hernández
Cardinals’ Paul DeJong
Red Sox’s Adam Duvall and possibly Alex Verdugo. https://t.co/JLclYaha5Y
— RD Topp (@RDTopp) July 31, 2023
Canha is a free agent at season’s end and the Mets are in sell mode in the midst of a disappointing season. The veteran isn’t going to wow you but he’s been a solid player for a while now. He has a career 115 OPS+ but it’s 102 this year. Canha can perhaps be a more consistent on-base guy to provide Yelich more opportunities with guys on base, which seems good! Canha is hitting .245 with a .343 on-base percentage, six homers and 29 RBIs.
— MLB Deadline News (@MLBDeadlineNews) July 29, 2023
The long time-Pirate could return to Milwaukee to be the Brewers’ designated hitter. McCutchen did drive in nearly 70 runs last year for the Brewers and would be a pretty significant upgrade to what the Brewers have gotten from the DH spot this year. McCutchen is having a nice bounceback season with a .257 average, 10 homers, 10 steals, a .380 on-base percentage with 59 walks and a .778 OPS for 112 OBP+.
Trade Deadline could spark Brewers lineup
These are just a few potential trade candidates for the Brewers to help a struggling offense based on the likely direction of the team at the Trade Deadline. The Brewers rank last in average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS in the National League and are 13th in runs scored.
Milwaukee just has a lot of holes in the lineup and I don’t think they are going for one big bat. Likely, the Brewers go after rentals and hope some existing guys get hot. They likely go this route also because they don’t want to part with high-end prospects but rather some roadblocked prospects who are in the top-30 are probably what Milwaukee is looking to potentially deal to improve. These are some realistic options and I think the top targets should be Candelario and Hernandez.
Some prospects I could see the Brewers parting with are outfield prospects Jace Avina, Carlos Rodriguez who seems blocked with the glut of talented outfielders in Milwaukee or the system.