Posted by Steve
The deadline is quickly approaching, and the one position the Brewers need to upgrade through trade is shortstop. Virtually anyone will be an upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt, but who is the right balance of talented and available?
Bartlett was a great player just a few years ago, which likely inflates his price. He’s having a poor season overall, although he’s turned it on offensively the last couple weeks. Fangraphs is even down on his defense the last few years, which had been a big strength for him in years past. For the money he’s making ($5.5 million each of the next two years), I’ll pass on Bartlett.
Furcal has been a huge injury risk in recent years, but until this year, he’s been a good player when healthy. Not this year, though. In just 122 ABs, he has a .469 OPS. He’s 33 years old and no guarantee to stay healthy. In fact, you could call him a long shot to stay healthy. He also had a $12 million salary this year. For all these reasons, I prefer other options to Furcal.
This seems to be the most likely player for the Brewers, as multiple rumors have the Brewers interested in him. He’s got a nice eye at the plate, with an OBP of .356. What a massive upgrade that’d be from Betancourt’s .272. Thing is, there are problems with Carroll, namely in his age. He’s 37, which means he really shouldn’t be a full time player. Likely because of his age, fangraphs has him as a fairly poor defender at short. Certainly nowhere near as bad as Yuni, but not good. I would not be comfortable with him as an everyday shortstop. I’d welcome him as a utility infielder, but would hope they’d acquire more of an everyday shortstop. He can replace Counsell or Wilson; let someone better replace Betancourt.
Now here’s an interesting option. Desmond was a pretty good prospect a few years ago. He’s now 25 years old and hasn’t hit a lick in the majors. He is unlikely to be an offensive improvement from Betancourt this season, which is why he may not be the best target. He is, however, a good defender, which means he’s still a fairly significant upgrade. Add in the fact that he’s only 25 and has a ceiling left, and the fact that he has several years of team control, and he becomes more appealing. Of course, that means he’s still likely to come with a high price tag. Still, his name is coming up in rumors because of a shortstop prospect in the Nats system who’s hitting. He’s worth looking in to.
Still, what makes a player an attractive candidate, like I said, is the right balance of talent and availability. The guys I have mentioned are lacking a bit in one area or another. That brings us to these next two, who seem to have the right balance, and are therefore my preferred targets.
Clint Barmes/Brendan Ryan
Both of these guys are unexciting. They’re also cheap, solid defenders, and playing on bad teams who will be looking to sell.
Barmes is a plus defender according to fangraphs, and he has been for years. He has a .323 OBP, which is a massive 51-point increase over Betancourt. He’s still young enough to play every day at 32, makes just under $4 million this season, and is a free agent after the year. For that reason, the Astros shouldn’t have any qualms about parting with him.
Ryan is a very similar case. He’s somewhere in the good to elite defensive category at short. He carries a .324 OBP, which again is not great, but not terrible for a shortstop–and definitely much better than Betancourt. Ryan makes $1.75 mil this year, so his contract is no issue. He’s arbitration eligible as well, so it would make sense for the Brewers to keep him unless they find something else in the offseason.
Neither guy is a world beater until you compare them to Betancourt. Both players have been worth over two wins more than Yuni so far this season, which is a huge amount. Neither would be expensive in terms of money or prospects.
My ideal deadline would be one of Barmes/Ryan and then Jamey Carroll for a utility infielder. This would not break the bank, yet would help the defense and offense.
Then, just call up Taylor Green and you’re ready for the stretch run.