History suggests Brewers will make a deal
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been downplaying the urgency to make a deal ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline, but history says the likelihood of some sort of move is high.
In seven of the past eight seasons, and in nine of his 11 full seasons on the job, Melvin has made at least one July trade involving a Major League player -- some when the Brewers were buyers, some as sellers and some in-between. This season, they are clearly in "buy" mode, with opportunities available in the bullpen, and at minimum a worthwhile debate at first base.
Melvin, though, has publicly lowered expectations.
"We're out there, we're going to have our ears open, and we're open to anything that can improve our club," Melvin said over the All-Star break in his most extensive comments about the looming Trade Deadline. "But we still have to play well as a team and not to think that one acquisition makes a difference. Not many times does that acquisition make the difference without the team still continuing to play well.
"Look at the Trade Deadline, and it's no different than the offseason. There's a lot of acquisitions you can make in the offseason, and all it does is make you look better on paper. It doesn't make you necessarily a better ballclub."
The Brewers did make one addition to the bullpen this month, but it came from within. They promoted hard-throwing former first-round Draft pick Jeremy Jeffress from Triple-A Nashville, and Jeffress impressed by touching 100 mph in his first Brewers appearance since 2010.
Melvin liked the idea of adding a right-handed power arm to the bullpen mix, something the Brewers have been missing with Jim Henderson on the disabled list most of the season with a right shoulder injury, and Brandon Kintzler struggling to find the consistency he displayed last season. Meanwhile, other clubs have made trades for established right-handed arms, including Huston Street, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor and Jason Grilli.
Should Melvin seek to further bolster the bullpen, many arms remain in a varying state of "available." They include Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins and Marlins closer Steve Cishek, plus a slew of setup types.
If history serves, Melvin will make some sort of move. In reverse chronological order, here is his activity in previous Julys:
Traded Francisco Rodriguez to the Baltimore Orioles on July 23 for infield prospect Nick Delmonico.
Traded Zack Greinke to the Angels for Minor League pitchers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura on July 27, and then traded George Kottaras to the Oakland Athletics for Minor League pitcher Fautino De Los Santos on July 28.
Received Rodriguez and cash from the Mets on July 12 and later sent Daniel Ray Herrera and Minor Leaguer Adrian Rosario to New York to complete the deal.
There were no deals in July, though the Brewers did trade outfielder Jim Edmonds to the Reds for Chris Dickerson on Aug. 9 in a waiver trade.
Received right-hander Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers for utilityman Vinny Rottino on July 31.
Acquired CC Sabathia from the Indians on July 7 for four Minor Leaguers: top prospect Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson. Also acquired infielder Ray Durham from the Giants on July 20 for prospects Steve Hammond and Darren Ford.
Acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from the Padres for pitching prospects Will Inman, Steve Garrison and Joe Thatcher on July 25 in Melvin's first clear "buy" as Brewers GM. Also traded Grant Balfour to the Rays for Seth McClung in a change-of-scenery deal.
Acquired infielder Tony Graffanino from the Royals for left-hander Jorge De La Rosa on July 25, and infielder David Bell from the Phillies for Minor Leaguer Wilfrido Laureano on July 28 before pulling the trigger on a much bigger trade July 28. Melvin sent outfielders Nelson Cruz and Carlos Lee to the Rangers for closer Francisco Cordero, outfielders Laynce Nix and Kevin Mench and Minor Leaguer Julian Cordero.
None, though Melvin had made a significant trade in June, when he sent second baseman Junior Spivey to the Nationals for starter Tomo Ohka.
Received Russell Branyan from the Cleveland Indians for cash on July 26.
Traded Curtis Leskanic to the Royals on July 10 for Alejandro Machado and Wes Obermueller.