MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers traded outfielder Keon Broxton to the Mets on Saturday for emerging righty reliever Bobby Wahl and two young prospects in pitcher Adam Hill and infielder Felix Valerio.It marked the second time in two weeks that the Brewers traded away an outfielder with no team options left
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers traded outfielder Keon Broxton to the Mets on Saturday for emerging righty reliever Bobby Wahl and two young prospects in pitcher Adam Hill and infielder Felix Valerio.
It marked the second time in two weeks that the Brewers traded away an outfielder with no team options left for a player with more flexibility and club control. On Dec. 21, they sent Domingo Santana to the Mariners for Ben Gamel, a left-handed hitter with an option who is now positioned as the fourth outfielder behind Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich.
Wahl, 26, made his Major League debut with the A's in 2017 before being dealt to the Mets this past July in the Jeurys Familia trade. He made seven appearances for New York with a fastball that topped out at 97.9 mph.
"This is a pitcher who over the last couple of years has dominated the upper levels of the Minor Leagues," Brewers GM David Stearns said. "He has yet to get a consistent shot at the Major League level, but he'll come with the ability to compete for a spot in our bullpen, and whether it's immediately out of the gate on Opening Day or later in the season, we certainly anticipate he's a person who will contribute for us at the Major League level this year."
Like incumbent Brewers reliever Corey Knebel, Wahl primarily works with a fastball-curveball combo, though he also throws a slider and a changeup. He struck out 14.5 batters per nine innings in parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level, with 19 saves and a 2.66 ERA in 67 2/3 innings. He has two Minor League options remaining.
If anything has held Wahl back, it's been injuries. He had elbow and oblique injuries earlier in his career, then underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2017 with the A's.
"The injuries in the past have been kind of the limiting factor for me," Wahl said. "I had the TOS surgery in 2017, but I had a really good rehab and came back better than ever. I was happy with what I was able to do [in '18], especially coming back from a surgery that was so rare and a lot of guys have some difficulties with."
In Hill, 21, the Brewers are getting another right-hander with swing-and-miss potential. The Mets' fourth-round Draft pick last year out of the University of South Carolina struck out 26 in 15 1/3 innings for Class A Short-Season Brooklyn in his pro debut.
Valerio, 18, spent his first pro season in the Dominican Summer League and batted .319 with three homers, 22 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 67 games.
Broxton played parts of three seasons for the Brewers and hit 20 home runs as a free-swinging regular in 2017, but mostly distinguished himself with his defense. He made one of the Brewers' most athletic plays of 2018, leaping at the center-field fence to take away a home run from the Twins' James Dozier in a one-run victory on July 4 at Miller Park, and was often inserted for defensive purposes late in the season as the Brewers chased the National League Central title.
If he spends the season in the Majors, Broxton projects to be arbitration-eligible next winter.
"Keon clearly was an important member of this organization for the past three years, and he has continued to work very hard at improving his game," Stearns said. "He became one of the better defensive outfielders in baseball and continued to work hard offensively as well.
"As we looked to our roster next year, we just felt it was going to be challenging, barring a series of injuries, to carry him all year on the roster as an out-of-options player. Once we came to that conclusion and we had the level of interest that we had in him, particularly from the Mets, it made sense for us to explore whether a trade made sense."
With Santana and Broxton gone, newcomer Gamel and super-utility man Hernan Perez, who has proven proficient in the outfield, are the primary reserve options to Braun, Cain and Yelich. Stearns also mentioned first baseman Eric Thames, utility man Tyler Saladino and recent signee Cory Spangenberg as options to cover some innings in the outfield, plus a trio of prospects likely to begin the year at Triple-A San Antonio: Tyrone Taylor, Troy Stokes and No. 2 Brewers prospect Corey Ray. All three could contribute at the MLB level "at some point during the year," Stearns said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.