LOS ANGELES -- "Too many outfielders" worked out swimmingly for the Brewers, so why not give "too many infielders" a try?Unable to find a deal to their liking for a starting pitcher at Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- though in one instance they were close -- the Brewers swung a
LOS ANGELES -- "Too many outfielders" worked out swimmingly for the Brewers, so why not give "too many infielders" a try?
Unable to find a deal to their liking for a starting pitcher at Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- though in one instance they were close -- the Brewers swung a last-minute swap with the Orioles for second baseman Jonathan Schoop. He joins weekend acquisition Mike Moustakas in a suddenly crowded, creative Milwaukee infield.
• Schoop jokes about not wearing O's uniform ahead of trade
Schoop (pronounced "scope") is 26, controllable through the end of next season and has hit 74 home runs over the past two and a half seasons, so the cost to acquire him was significant: infielder Jonathan Villar plus pitching prospect Luis Ortiz and infield prospect Jean Carmona. Ortiz was the No. 7 Brewers prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and Carmona was No. 14.
"It's exciting to go there into a pennant race, and trying to help the team win," said Schoop. "They're young over there, too. They're rolling right now. I'm excited."
Schoop primarily plays second base, a position handled the past three days by Travis Shaw after Moustakas' arrival Saturday in the wake of a trade with the Royals. Now they'll add Schoop to the mix, which also includes defense-first shortstop Orlando Arcia and a first-base combination of Jesus Aguilar, Eric Thames and occasionally Ryan Braun.
Moustakas, Shaw and Thames bat left-handed. Schoop, Arcia, Aguilar and Braun bat right-handed.
If you were looking for an immediate, clear answer for who would play where, general manager David Stearns didn't provide it, though he and manager Craig Counsell said Schoop will see some time at shortstop in addition to second base. Schoop has played 22 innings of shortstop in the Major Leagues, including two starts.
"The challenge is going to be kind of mixing and matching with the playing time," said Counsell. "We've already decided we're going to take some positional risks with these guys, and I think we'll explore the same thing with Jonathan."
If that sounds familiar, it is because Stearns and Counsell answered similarly all spring after adding Lorenzo Cain via free agency and Christian Yelich via blockbuster trade to an already crowded outfield. Cain and Yelich both made the All-Star team, and the depth has proved useful as Braun and Thames hit the disabled list, Domingo Santana was demoted to Triple-A and Brett Phillips was used as trade bait to land Moustakas from the Royals on Friday.
Now, it's the same situation in the infield.
"It's a lot of the same type of players, so there's going to be a lot of moving parts," said Shaw. "I don't know how they're going to navigate that right now, or what the plan is. But it's something that they'll have to tell you or tell us. We'll roll with it."
Don't misread Shaw's comment as grumbling. Shaw used to play for the Red Sox and matched up against Schoop's Orioles, calling Schoop an "impact bat" who will strengthen Milwaukee's offense.
"You want to win. You want to get in [the postseason]," Shaw said. "It seems like there's a lot of things this year all around baseball, where people are starting to go different avenues. It's not the traditional route anymore. Baseball is changing and everybody is kind of adapting."
Stearns and Counsell both acknowledged the Brewers are asking established players to put the team first.
"Look, we're at a point in the season here where they're all going to have to make a sacrifice with this addition," Counsell said. "And that's what happens with every good team. The same thing's happening over there on the other side of the field [with the Dodgers]. That's going to be part of this.
"There's at-bats for everybody. We have 55 games left and it's not going to be 55 games of at-bats, but it's going to be enough to contribute and to hopefully to get us into October."
Stearns added, "These things do have a tendency to work themselves out. Part of the allure here was to add to the overall talent level of the team, increase our depth, understanding that the unknown is going to happen over the next two months of the season."
Schoop was an All-Star and garnered some MVP Award votes in 2017, when he slashed .293/.338/.503 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs. His numbers are down this season -- .244/.273/.447 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs in 85 games -- but he went on a five-day home run spree last week that earned him American League Player of the Week honors.
Schoop has hit safely in 22 of his last 23 games with a .360 (36-for-100) average this month, including a current 12-game hitting streak during which Schoop is batting .345 (19-for-55) with seven homers. That means when he arrives, the Brewers will have both of MLB's reigning Players of the Week. Yelich won in the National League.
The Orioles get two years of control on the switch-hitting Villar, who was so impactful in 2016, when he led the National League in stolen bases, that the Brewers offered him a multiyear contract extension in excess of $23 million. He has seen a significant drop in production since then -- with a .665 OPS in 2017 and .693 this season -- and is currently nearing the end of a stint on the disabled list for a thumb injury.
"I think Jonathan had periods of really exceptional performance and periods when he didn't perform as we had expected or hoped," Stearns said. "It's probably a good time for him to get a fresh start."
Ortiz participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game but is behind some of the Brewers' other young pitchers, including Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. Carmona is 18 and was playing in the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League.
The Brewers will keep shopping. Stearns said he expects August, when teams can still trade players provided they pass through waivers first, to be busy.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.