Friday, August 1, 2014

Building The 25 - Brewers Trade for Outfielder Gerardo Parra

There were grumblings that Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was trying to make a C.C. Sabathia-esque splash at the trade deadline to help the Brewers push The 25 to the next level.  David Price (formerly) of the Tampa Bay Rays was the C.C. Sabathia of this trade deadline given that both are dominate left-handed starting pitchers.  The only difference between 2014 Price and 2008 Sabathia are their contractual situations.  When the Brewers acquired Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians at the 2008 trade deadline, they knew it was a rental for just that season since Sabathia was due to become a free agent at the end of the season.  Conversely, Price is signed through next season so that increases his value slightly over 2008 Sabathia.

The Brewers gave up outfielder Michael Brantley, pitcher Rob Bryson, pitcher Zach Jackson and first-baseman Matt LaPorta to get Sabathia.  At the time LaPorta was the centerpiece of the trade but Michael Brantley (actually the "player to be named later" in the trade that is usually a short-list of guys that the Indians could choose from later) ended up being the best of the bunch.  Ultimately the Rays moved Price to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team deal that also involved the Seattle Mariners. The Rays got left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames from the Tigers as well as infielder Nick Franklin from the Mariners.  The Mariners got center-fielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers.

Just to muddy the waters a little more, the compensation rules were slightly different when the Brewers acquired Sabathia than they are now, which increased Sabathia's value despite the fact that the Brewers knew there was a 1% chance that Sabathia would re-sign with them.  All the Brewers had to do after the season was tender Sabathia a one-year, qualifying offer so they would at least get draft pick compensation for "losing" Sabathia to free agency.  There was virtually no chance that Sabathia was going to accept a one-year offer given how much he could command on the free agent market so the qualifying offer was always a farce.

Ultimately Sabathia signed an eight-year, $186 million contract with the New York Yankees and the Brewers got 39th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft as compensation, which they used to select outfielder Kentrail Davis.  Right now Davis is stuck in Double-A, which is disappointing given his draft status.  Unless Davis can pick things up in the next year, I do not see him as a part of the long-terms plans at the big league level for the Brewers.  That trick to get draft pick compensation is no longer an option under the new collective bargaining agreement.  In order to get draft pick compensation under the new CBA, a player has to be on The 25 for at least one season.  That means the Tigers will get draft pick compensation if they lose Price after next season but the Brewers would not have gotten draft pick compensation if they lost Sabathia in 2014 like they did in 2008.

Instead of making a splash, Melvin made a slight ripple when he acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-leaguers Anthony Banda (left-handed pitcher) and Mitch Haniger (outfielder).  Although Parra has struggled offensively this season hitting just .259, he is two-time Gold Glove winner so we know he can field his position.  Parra also gives the Brewers a left-handed bat in the outfield that they desperately need since each of their starters (Kris Davis, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun) hits from the right side.  In terms of Parra's contract situation, the Brewers have him under team control through 2015 if they like but if Parra declines that tender after the 2015 season and signs elsewhere, at least the Brewers can get draft pick compensation if they tender him for the next two seasons.

In terms of what the Brewers gave up, Hainger is clearly the better of the two prospects.  The Brewers drafted Hainger 38th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft and is one of the better prospects in their somewhat disappointing farm system. So far Hainger has been alright hitting .255 in Double-A this season.  This trade finally allows the Diamondbacks to get Banda.  Originally the Diamondbacks drafted Banda in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft but Banda did not sign so he entered the 2012 MLB Draft and the Brewers took Banda in the 10th round of that draft.  So far Banda has been decent in 2014 posting a 3.66 ERA in Single-A so far this season.

Hainger projects as a utility outfielder while Banda does not project as anything better than a left-handed reliever so that doesn't seem like too much to give up to get a legitimate 4th outfielder, especially since their current 4th outfielder Logan Schafer is batting a measly .183 this season.  Plus, current starting left-fielder Kris Davis is hitting just .232 against right-handers while Parra is hitting .271 against right handers so I see the Brewers platooning Davis and Parra the rest of 2014 with Davis starting against left-handers and Parra starting against right-handers.

If Melvin just held onto outfielder Nori Aoki instead of trading him for left-hander Will Smith, there would have been no need to acquire Parra.  At the time of the Aoki/Smith trade I hated it but given how well Smith has pitched this year out of the bullpen, the Aoki/Smith trade does not look as bad now as I thought it would.  Landing Parra is not a Sabathia-esque acquisition but clearly the asking price for Price (no pun intended) was too high for the Brewers given that their farm system is so devoid of high-end talent that I am not even sure they could have made the Rays a legitimate offer for Price.  Truthfully it is just nice to see the Brewers in a pennant race and thus buyers at the trade deadline instead of sellers.

Although training camp is starting for the Green Bay Packers so I will have a ton of Packers posts, I will do my best to post more on the Brewers thru the end of the season given that they are in the midst of one of the most pleasantly surprising seasons in the last decade as they make a legitimate run at winning the N.L. Central and making the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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