As the baseball world spun during a flurry of trade deadline deals, the Milwaukee Brewers attempted to fortify their flagging pitching staff with a pair of under-the-radar trades, picking up Jake Faria from Tampa Bay and Drew Pomeranz from San Francisco.
Early in the day, the Brewers flipped scuffling first baseman Jesus Aguilar for Faria, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Aguilar, a 2018 All-Star and Home Run Derby participant, has hit just .235 with 19 home runs in 170 games since last season’s Midsummer Classic. With Mike Moustakas turning in a career year offensively and Travis Shaw back on the major league roster, Aguilar’s positional inflexibility and prolonged offensive struggles made him expendable.
The Rays are notorious for piecing together reclamation projects on the cheap, and now have Aguilar in the fold through 2022.
In return for the beefy first baseman, Milwaukee picked up Faria, a 26-year-old righthander. Faria has spent the majority of 2019 in Triple-A, where he posted a 4.07 ERA in 59.2 innings; he owns a 2.70 ERA in 10 major league innings this season.
David Stearns swapped Aguilar at the absolute dearth of his value, and it shows. Faria has experience as a starter and a reliever, and pitched to a 3.43 ERA in 2017. But he regressed to a 5.40 ERA last year and appears to be nothing more than rotation filler at best. Faria will report to Triple-A, but he could provide some multi-inning versatility down the stretch – something manager Craig Counsell has utilized well in the past. Faria is under contract through 2023.
In the afternoon, the Brewers made their long-awaited trade with the Giants, but did not end up landing the much-rumored Madison Bumgarner. Or Will Smith. Or Sam Dyson. Instead, Milwaukee grabbed left-handed pitcher Pomeranz and right-handed arm Ray Black in return for infielder Mauricio Dubon, the Brewers’ third-ranked prospect, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray.
After posting a 3.24 ERA from 2013-17 with San Diego and Boston, Pomeranz has been largely awful for two years now, tallying a 5.87 ERA since the start of last season. Most of that damage was done as a starter, but he did show signs of life this month as a reliever and has now completed four consecutive scoreless outings with eight strikeouts, one walk and one hit allowed since July 22. Stearns announced Wednesday that Pomeranz will begin in the Brewers’ bullpen.
Ray, 29, has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, and pitched to a 5.16 ERA in Triple-A this season. He will join Faria in Triple-A San Antonio with the Brewers organization.
Even including the Jordan Lyles move that was made earlier this week, the Brewers are betting mostly on internal improvement to propel them back into the postseason.
The one saving grace for Milwaukee? Among the other NL Central/Wild Card contenders, no one really made a franchise-altering move. The biggest name added was likely Nicholas Castellanos to Chicago. Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer went to NL teams likely out of the playoff race, and Zack Greinke moved to Houston Astros in the American League. So in that sense, the Brewers position has not really changed much this week.
But for anyone – fans or players – looking to see a major splash to re-energize the big club, that simply did not seem to be on the table this week. With exorbitantly high asking prices, a lack of true game changers on the market and a dilapidated Milwaukee farm system, there was simply not a fit for an impact Brewers move.
Enough major league talent still exists on the roster to cobble together a playoff push, but with the organization’s once-impressive pitching depth in total ruins, it’s hard to envision a sustained run of success, barring a flip of the switch from the offense.
The Brewers are only one game out of the second Wild Card spot, yet it’s fair to wonder if Counsell has the horses to compete down the stretch. This trade deadline did not do much to assuage those concerns.
When Brian's not writing about sports, he is probably prattling on about Marquette hoops, digging through statistics, or re-binging his favorite television series. Any conversation that begins with a quote from "The Office" or "West Wing" is a surefire way to grab his attention.