Brewers trade rumors: Team ‘testing waters’ for Rays pitcher David Price

There have been murmurings about interest in Price for the past month. How serious might Milwaukee be about trading for the Rays' ace?

The Brewers are among those eyeing Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. According to Morosi's source, the team's inquiries were closer to dipping their "foot in water" as opposed to advanced negotiations.

Milwaukee's plans around trade talks always seem to be a bit murky, with few solid details ever emerging. However, over the past month there have been bits of rumors coming along that the Brewers could indeed be looking at the Rays' ace. Tampa Bay has been, so far, reluctant to trade him but could change their minds very soon as the trade deadline looms.

Price, 28, would automatically become the best pitcher on the roster were a trade to actually happen. He is a former Cy Young winner, a four-time All Star, and has a 3.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP this season. In fact, 2014 might be his best campaign yet as he has a ridiculous 183:21 K:BB ratio (10.1 K/9, 1.1 BB/9). His biggest problem on the season has been an increase in home run rate -- he has allowed 20 homers already this season, just short of a career-high 22 he allowed in 2011.

However, the cost to acquire Price would be extravagantly high. The fact he is one of the best pitchers and in his prime is enough to elevate his value, but throw in the fact that he is under team control through 2015 and you know the Rays will be looking for a huge package in return. The good news with that is any acquiring team could, theoretically, recoup some of the cost by flipping him in the off season. This would be similar to what the Brewers did with Zack Greinke.

The price in prospects could be prohibitive if the Brewers are serious about making a run for him, however. The Rays turned down a deal centering around Addison Russell, one of the very best prospects in the game. Though their asking price may have been high with more time leading up to the deadline, it's unlikely they would then accept a lesser offer after losing out on Russell.

The Brewers certainly can't match that price in prospects alone. Though the minor league system is both underrated and improving, 95% of the system's talent is still in the lower rungs of the minors. Those players tend to have much less trade value than those closer to the majors, unless they are Byron Buxton-type prospects.

Thus, Milwaukee would have to consider trading from their current major league core. Someone like Jean Segura or Wily Peralta might very well be needed in any such deal. Jimmy Nelson, too. And any of those players would also need additional prospects thrown in. What the Rays won't accept is a Mike Fiers/Taylor Jungmann/Tyler Cravy deal. Any of those players would be a throw-in in a larger deal, with none being close to a centerpiece.

So should the Brewers think about making such a large-scale deal? It worked well with CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke, but this may be a whole 'nother beast. A Price trade may only turn out to be a good deal if the Brewers then win the World Series. If that happens, it doesn't matter what gets the team there. Still, the cost would be immense and would certainly be a punch to the gut no matter what happens.

For now, however, any sort of Price trade is likely only a fantasy for Milwaukee. The expendable pieces aren't there and the Rays are asking for a lot. Tampa Bay is also under no pressure to make a deal. They can always wait until the off season before dealing Price. Though he would help the Brewers' rotation immensely, Price is still likely a pipe-dream.

And it's important to remember that these rumors are "Brewers have some interest" in Price, not "Brewers heavily pursuing Price". Doug Melvin and co should be checking in on what it could take to land any top flight starters are available. That doesn't indicate anything imminent, or any particularly strong interest. Like Morosi's source said, it's just testing the waters quick. If there's sharks, you don't jump.

The Brewers and Rays begin a three-game series tonight, the last the Rays will have before the deadline. The Brewers will get to see Price first-hand when they face him on the 30th.

Will the Brewers make any trades before Thursday’s deadline?

Time is running out to make a non-waiver trade. Will the Brewers be able to get a deal done at all?

Usually Doug Melvin is pretty tight lipped about potential trades. That's not really changed, but he did recently admit to "aggressively" calling clubs about available players. Still, here we are a mere 4 days before the trade deadline and nothing has materialized. It's not uncommon for deals to happen in the last minutes before the deadline, but one has wonder what's taking so long and if a deal will happen at all?

For one thing, apparently Melvin didn't start actively pursuing the trade avenue until about a week ago. I find that timing curious as it's been pretty apparent that the team needed an upgraded bench and could have benefited from an addition to the bullpen for quite some time. Also because of that, any potential deal was postponed due to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Melvin mentioned that teams have a lot of officials there and they wouldn't be available to begin or continue trade talks until today.

Another reason nothing has happened yet has to do with acquisition costs. Melvin said that a lot of the "so called available" players are only available for a steep price and that teams have been asking for Brewers prospects that they aren't willing to part with. As the deadline approaches it's possible those prices will come down, which could be why Melvin is waiting.

Even though Melvin didn't commit to a specific player he's interested in or even a specific area he's looking at, I think we can make some educated guesses. He mentioned that the Rockies appear content to keep LaTroy Hawkins and that the Astros Chad Qualls was unavailable. It's still very possible if not likely that Melvin doesn't acquire a reliever, but since he asked about those players we can at least surmise he'd be interested in the right reliever.

In the interview with McCalvy, Melvin points out that he doesn't think a single player makes all the difference. And there's also this quote: "There's probably one or two players who could be difference makers, and the others just provide you the depth. They fill a small hole or a small gap or may be an incremental improvement." Basically, what I think he's saying is: Don't expect a big trade.

This makes sense and it's what I think most of us having been hoping for. Trading for a starter like Justin Morneau (before he got hurt) would have cost a lot of prospects and probably not moved the needle very much or at least not enough to justify the cost to acquire. A smaller deal for a guy like Mike Carp (who by the way wants to be traded) who could replace Overbay is an "incremental improvement." He plays first and left and has hit RHP better than Overbay. That's just an example of course.

We can't know for sure if the Brewers are zeroing in on any specific players. I've not heard anything except for the times when they've been reported to have scouts at games, but they probably have scouts at all games. Regardless of who they might get, another McCalvy article posits that Melvin's history as the Brewers GM suggests that he will make a deal and I'm inclined to agree. The Brewers are in a good position to make the playoffs and the small cost to acquire a complimentary player is well worth it.

Time is short though so if it's going to happen, we can expect it in a matter of days which makes this one of the more interesting weeks of the season. What do you think? Are the Brewers going to get someone? Who, or less specifically what, do you want the Brewers to get? Will they get anyone at all?

Freely* Available Talent: Juan Carlos Oviedo

Could the former Leo Nunez, former Royal and former Marlin be a future Brewer?

The news: On Saturday the Rays designated reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo for assignment. Pitching in the majors for the first time since 2011, Oviedo has a 3.69 ERA over 32 appearances for Tampa. His peripheral numbers tell a slightly less positive story, however, as he's walking 4.5 batters per nine innings and striking out 7.4. His FIP is almost a run higher than his ERA at 4.52. All of these numbers carry a very significant "small sample size" caveat, as they reflect just 31.2 innings.

Oviedo is 32 and injuries and identity issues (he used to be known as Leo Nunez) kept him out of the majors for the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons. Before that, however, he was a "proven closer," recording a combined 92 saves between 2009-11 as a member of the Marlins. He's never been an elite reliever and has struggled against lefties (career .782 OPS against), but he's a viable bullpen arm on a cheap contract (one year, $1.5 million).

Could he help this team? Marginally, maybe. The Brewers almost certainly wouldn't install Oviedo at closer, and he probably falls in somewhere behind Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith, Zach Duke, a healthy Jim Henderson and maybe even Jeremy Jeffress in the bullpen pecking order.

If the Brewers are looking for bullpen help, however, then it's worth noting that they could do worse. Oviedo is probably just as likely to be a significant contributor to the Brewers as someone like 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins, for example. Are either of them likely to be better than someone like Brandon Kintzler? That's open for debate.

As Jordan noted a week ago, the recent Huston Street trade reminded us that trading for an elite reliever is an expensive endeavor. If the Brewers aren't willing to pay that kind of price, then they might be better off looking for help on the scrap heap than paying for mid-level talent.

Poll
If Rays reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo is available to the Brewers on waivers, should they claim him?

  61 votes | Results

What we learned: July 28, 2014

Today's lessons include the new face of the franchise, a look at the upcoming trade deadline, and how to make the Cardinals as bad as possible.

This Weekend's Results

Mets 3, Brewers 2

Yovani Gallardo put together a fantastic start, pitching 7 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. The Brewers got two runs, one from an Aramis Ramirez groundout and another from a Carlos Gomez home run. However, the Mets rallied for three runs off of closer Francisco Rodriguez to pull out the win.

Brewers 5, Mets 2

Wily Peralta didn't have his best day, but managed to get through six innings allowing only two runs. The offense picked him up, with four different Brewers recording RBIs to provide a balanced offense.

Mets 2, Brewers 0

The Brewers couldn't figure out Jacob deGrom, who kept the Brewers in check for 6 1/3 innings and held them to four hits and two walks. It wasted a good start from Jimmy Nelson, who had some early trouble but settled in to pitch 7 innings, allowing only a two-run home run. That was enough offense for the Mets tow in.

Jonathan Lucroy has become the new face of the Brewers franchise.

For years, the Brewers had turned to Ryan Braun to be the face of the franchise. However, recent events have tarnished his image, and while he's still a good player for the Brewers, he isn't the same as he used to be. As Braun's image fell, another star has stepped into that role: Jonathan Lucroy. On Friday, Noah made the argument for why Lucroy is the new face of the franchise. Lucroy has really stepped up this year, becoming one of the best hitters for the Brewers and a MVP candidate. The fans have rallied around Lucroy, and he has become one of the most popular players on the team. He's still young, so hopefully that means he can be the face of this team for many more years.

Cram Session

Minor League Update

Team Level Record Yesterday Today
Nashville Sounds AAA 58-51 Fri: Nashville 2, Oklahoma City 0
Sat: Nashville 8, Oklahoma City 1
Sun: Oklahoma City 6, Nashville 5
Oklahoma City @ Nashville
Huntsville Stars AA 63-44 Fri: Jackson 8, Huntsville 3
Sat: Chattanooga 10, Huntsville 6
Sun: Huntsville 8, Chattanooga 4
Chattanooga @ Huntsville
Brevard County Manatees A+ 53-45 Fri: Palm Beach 13, Brevard County 7
Sun: Palm Beach 5, Brevard County 4
Sun: Brevard County 4, Palm Beach 2
Jupiter @ Brevard County
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers A 55-49 Fri: Lake County 2, Wisconsin 1
Sat: Fort Wayne 8, Wisconsin 4
Sun: Wisconsin 5, Fort Wayne 2
Wisconsin @ Fort Wayne
DSL Brewers R 21-27 Fri: DSL Rangers1 18, DSL Brewers 2
Sat: DSL Rangers1 7, DSL Brewers 4
DSL Tigers @ DSL Brewers
Helena Brewers R 15-25 Fri: Missoula 22, Helena 5
Sat: Helena 14, Missoula 5
Sun: Helena 10, Missoula 8
Helena @ Billings
AZL Brewers R 15-15 Sat: AZL Reds 9, AZL Brewers 3
Sun: AZL Brewers 12, AZL Reds 2
AZL Brewers @ AZL Indians

News & Notes

Check out morineko's daily minor league update for a more in-depth look at yesterday's minor league results.

Division Update

Team W L GB
Brewers 59 47 -
Cardinals 56 48 2
Pirates 55 49 3
Reds 52 52 6
Cubs 42 61 15.5

Today's Division Games

  • Pirates (Vance Worley) @ GIants (Madison Bumgarner) - 9:15 pm
  • Diamondbacks (Chase Anderson) @ Reds (Homer Bailey) - 6:10 pm
  • Rockies (Yohan Flande) @ Cubs (Tsuyoshi Wada) - 7:05 pm
  • Cardinals have the day off.

Today's Action

The Brewers travel to Tampa Bay for the first time since 2005 to face the Rays tonight. Kyle Lohse will open the series for the Brewers, and he will face former Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi. First pitch is at 6:10 pm, and Steven Petrella of MLB.com has the preview.

History suggests Brewers will make a deal

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been downplaying the urgency to make a deal ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline, but history says the likelihood of some sort of move is high.

Nelson, Taylor still top Brewers’ Top 20 list

With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, MLBPipeline.com has updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.

Brewers 0, Mets 2: Offense comes up with a Dud(a)

The Brewers couldn't manage to generate anything at the plate, though Jimmy Nelson impressed.

Win: Jacob deGrom (5-5)
Loss: Jimmy Nelson (1-2)
Save: Jenrry Mejia (15)

HR: Lucas Duda (18)

Boxscore

For the first time in over a month, the Brewers were shut out by an opposing team. Rookie Mets starter Jacob deGrom was excellent today, pitching 6.1 innings while allowing just four hits and two walks.

The Brewers managed to get a runner on base in four of the first six innings, but never really threatened as the baserunner never managed to make it to second base. Milwaukee had their first real chance at getting on the board in the seventh when Khris Davis led off with a single, then moved to second on a one-out Jean Segura single. Unfortunately two pop-ups -- including one from a pinch-hitting Scooter Gennett, his first plate appearance since the 22nd -- ended any threat there was.

Then, in the ninth, the Brewers once again managed to get two baserunners aboard. Once again, it was Khris Davis and Jean Segura with singles. This time, however, there were two outs and a Lyle Overbay grounder ended the game.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Nelson had a pretty nice day of his own. He went seven strong innings, allowing five hits and a pair of walks while striking out six. The only runs against him came in the sixth inning when Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer, scoring Daniel Murphy as well. That was all the Mets needed, of course, with the Brewers' offense struggling to do much of anything.

The loss drops the Brewers to 59-47. The Cardinals won their game today while the Pirates currently lead by a run as of this writing, so it looks like Milwaukee may drop a game to both of their nearest rivals. They'll just have to get back to their winning ways tomorrow, when they begin a series with the surging Rays.

Nelson’s strong start spoiled by one swing

Rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson allowed just two runs over seven innings, but Mets rookie Jacob deGrom was even better as the Brewers dropped a 2-0 decision Sunday afternoon.

Nelson’s strong start spoiled by one swing

Rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson allowed just two runs over seven innings, but Mets rookie Jacob deGrom was even better as the Brewers dropped a 2-0 decision Sunday afternoon.

Facing Rays, Lohse out to continue strong season

On Monday, Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi will face the Brewers, who drafted him and traded him to the Royals in 2010 in a deal involving Zack Greinke. Milwaukee righty Kyle Lohse, who's having an excellent season, will start the series opener at Tropicana Field.