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July 22, 2013

Painting the Black

The Brewers Who Might Be Moving

by R.J. Anderson

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The Assets

(Listed in descending order of expected impact)

Norichika Aoki

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: L/R

Half of Salary: $0.61 million

Contract Status: Club option for 2014 worth $1.5 million

Stats: 406 PA, .294/.362/.368

PECOTA Projection: 258 PA, .298/.360/.403

Ideal Role: Corner outfielder, leadoff hitter

There aren't many contracts available easier to digest than the one signed by Aoki. He'll make less in the next year and a half than many players make in a half-season. Of course, the former Yakult Swallow is older, and has only one year remaining on his deal, but he can help a team. Although he may not feature the power normally associated with a corner outfielder, Aoki reaches base at a high clip thanks to a healthy mix of singles and walks. Aoki hasn't shown the baserunning aptitude he did last season, as he's been caught stealing more times this season than last—and with a third of the successes. Still, given his top-of-the-order skill set and enviable contract he's likely to be a popular target for teams planning to compete this and next season.

Kyle Lohse

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 34

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $5.50 million

Contract Status: Two guaranteed years at $22 million total.

Stats: 20 GS, 121.1 IP, 3.49 ERA, 4.00 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 12 GS, 76 IP, 4.39 ERA, 3.00 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 3 starter

How much more quickly would Lohse have signed during the winter were it not for the draft-pick compensation? The Brewers might net us an answer if they decide to move the crafty right-hander. While Lohse's won-lost record pales in comparison to last season, he's further improved on the strikeout-to-walk ratio gains he made; in fact, this would be the first time he strikes out four batters for each walk issued. Lohse generates those positive results with location and sequencing. He doesn't throw hard, nor does he own an elite pitch, but he pounds the zone and generates weak fly balls. A top-of-the-rotation option he's not, but he could step into numerous postseason-bound rotations and help.

Yovani Gallardo

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 27

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $3.88 million

Contract Status: One guaranteed year at $11.25 million and a club option for 2015 worth $13 million ($0.6 million buyout)

Stats: 21 GS, 120 IP, 4.58 ERA, 2.13 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 14 GS, 88 IP, 3.76 ERA, 2.97 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 3 starter?

Gallardo is in the midst of a weird season. He's battled his mechanics throughout, and his stuff appears in decline. Yet Gallardo has pitched better at times, including his most recent start against the Marlins. Like all other players, his trade value stems from how other teams view him. But unlike other most other players, there could be a sizable gap in evaluations. If a team believes that Gallardo has struggled due to a non-competitive environment and temporary mechanical woes, then he and the contract become appealing. If no team bites on that angle then don't expect Gallardo's departure to be a given.

John Axford

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 30

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $2.50 million

Contract Status: Three more years of team control

Stats: 47 G, 39.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 2.41 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 25 IP, 3.85 ERA, 2.42 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Set-up man/closer

After losing the closer's gig early in the season, Axford has rebounded and put together a nice season—especially from May onward. He rides his mid-90s fastball, though he'll give batters different looks with a pair of breaking balls. Axford's closing experience could appeal to a team in need. There is one hiccup here worth noting: the additional team control years may not be as tempting as they appear. Axford received a healthy first-year arbitration prize, and if his performance slips a bit heading forward he becomes a legitimate non-tender candidate. For now he'll fit in as a hard-throwing late-inning reliever with control issues. Heading forward, who knows.

Francisco Rodriguez

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: Estimated $1 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 24 G, 23.2 IP, 1.14 ERA, 3.25 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 25 IP, 3.26 ERA, 2.80 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Set-up man/closer

Rodriguez is neck and neck with Kevin Gregg as the most surprising addition to the closing market. What started as a cheap milestone grab has turned into something more devious: a scheme to pump up Rodriguez's trade value. Whether it works is to be seen. Rodriguez's stuff has worked, however, and that's reason enough to believe he'll be on the move. He complements a low-90s fastball with a breaking ball and a changeup, which also serves as his out pitch—even against right-handed batters.

Michael Gonzalez

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 35

Bats/Throws: R/L

Half of Salary: $1.13 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 49 G, 33.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 2.41 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 21 IP, 3.63 ERA, 3.00 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Left-handed specialist

A rough 2011 put Gonzalez out of work and focus. He's since put together more than 90 solid appearances with the Nationals and Brewers, all while becoming more of a left-handed specialist. The change in role comes for good reason: over the past three seasons Gonzalez has held lefties to a .593 OPS, as compared to his .849 OPS allowed against righties. His deceptive delivery helps, but what he likes to do most against lefties is pound his fastball and slider away, away, and away again. The Brewers don't have a ton of use for an older LOOGY on an expiring deal. Expect him to get moved.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Milwaukee Brewers,  Trade Deadline

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