MILWAUKEE -- Garrett Cooper's path to Miller Park was blocked, so the Brewers traded the emerging first baseman to the Yankees on Thursday for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb.Webb will join the Brewers' bullpen Friday, when first-place Milwaukee hosts the Phillies to open the second half. He will take the spot
MILWAUKEE -- Garrett Cooper's path to Miller Park was blocked, so the Brewers traded the emerging first baseman to the Yankees on Thursday for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb.
Webb will join the Brewers' bullpen Friday, when first-place Milwaukee hosts the Phillies to open the second half. He will take the spot of right-hander Michael Blazek, who will be optioned back to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
"I think we've been looking in general at ways we can continue to further our depth and potentially upgrade our relief pitching as a whole," Stearns said. "Those guys, we've used them a lot. We've asked a lot out of them. I think that group has really stabilized nicely over the last three-four weeks, but the ability to add a guy like Webb who has options just increases our flexibility and the numbers that we have of available Major League relievers."
The Brewers liked that Webb is on the young side (he turns 27 next week), left-handed, effective against batters from both sides of the plate (sub-.700 OPS against left-handers and right-handers in the Minors this season) and that he misses bats (11.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his Minor League career).
He also has three options remaining, meaning unlike many of the other pitchers in the Brewers' bullpen, he can be shifted between the Minors and Majors as needs arise.
"[Blazek] did his job and it's always tough sending a guy down that's done his job. [Webb] does get us more balance in the bullpen and gives us some options," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's a guy that's had a pretty good track record in the Minor Leagues. He throws strikes and he misses bats. That's something that is appealing and interesting."
Webb was selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft during the offseason, but was returned to the Yankees before Opening Day. After posting a 3.24 ERA in 33 1/3 innings with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Webb made his Major League debut with the Yankees on June 24. He allowed three earned runs in six innings with New York, striking out five.
Cooper, meanwhile, will enter the Yankees' organization as the latest candidate to fill the team's first-base hole. He was hitting .366/.428/.652 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs this season for Triple-A Colorado Springs, numbers strong enough to get him named to the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Yankees first basemen rank second to last in the Majors in OPS with a .620 mark, mostly thanks to a slew of injuries to Opening Day starter Greg Bird and a rough campaign by the recently released Chris Carter. Brewers first basemen are fourth in the Majors with a .951 OPS thanks to the productive platoon of Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar, both of whom are under club control for at least the next two seasons -- and in Aguilar's case, beyond.
"Garrett did a tremendous job this year of vaulting himself into prospect status. Unfortunately for him, we had a situation here where first base is pretty well covered," Stearns said. "Our corners in general are pretty well covered over here. So he wasn't able to get that opportunity at the Major League level. He's going to an organization where he's likely to get a little bit more of an opportunity than he would here."
Phillips rejoins Crew
The Brewers will recall outfield prospect Brett Phillips from Colorado Springs for a second time Friday, and it could be a short stay.
That roster spot was already open, since the Brewers placed right-handed starter Junior Guerra on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised right shin. The Brewers are hopeful that Guerra will pitch on schedule in the fifth game out of the All-Star break on Tuesday at Pittsburgh.
"I would say cautiously optimistic that we're going to need a starter on Tuesday, and I think he's certainly got a chance to be that guy," Counsell said. "But we're not for sure on that yet."
The Brewers could have another roster move as soon as Saturday, when infielder Eric Sogard is eligible to return from the DL for a sprained left ankle. But Sogard still must pass some tests to prove he is ready, Counsell said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.