Can Brewers Get Out of The Prospect Dungeon?
Milwaukee Brewers have made the playoffs the last two years. They made it to National League Championship Series in 2018 then to the Wild Card Game in 2019 sans Christian Yelich. But Milwaukee’s success at the major league level has not translated to the minor leagues. Last year, the Brewers’ prospects were near the bottom of Major League Baseball. Then, this year, multiple analysts ranked Brewers’ dead last in baseball. Does this matter for the future of Milwaukee baseball and should Milwaukee be concerned?
Milwaukee is in win-now mode. Even though they did not make the big splashes this year, they’re still hoping to contend for a playoff spot for an unprecedented third straight year. With not having topflight prospects waiting for the wings, the Brewers do not have much room for error if they struggle. Or Milwaukee cannot pull off a massive trade if need be if they’re contending in July.
Brewers being at the bottom is never fun, but consider this, they could have traded Christian Yelich this July or in December and get a haul. Most small-market teams would deal with Yelich and start the process all over again. Milwaukee would go into a tank as they did in 2005 or 2015 then get high draft picks to pare with prospects received from a hypothetical Yelich deal. In 2021, Brewers would probably be in the top 15 likely and the future looks very bright. But none of that happened, Yelich is signed for the next nine years.
While Yelich is safe, Josh Hader is not. He could be the guy that helps revive the Brewers’ farm system. Hader is a great player and could be a cornerstone for the Brewers. Yet as a reliever with a vicious mechanic, he could easily get hurt. Further, we started to see some cracks in his game last year after the All-Star Game for two months. If Brewers scuffle this season, Hader will be directly on the block and likely the biggest name out there.
Let’s say things go well for Milwaukee and they’re in contention again. Hader isn’t moving. But it could be on the table next offseason. Unless Brewers show massive progress with their prospects, this feels like an inevitable situation. David Stearns is good at finding gems in the rough though without trading big names. He did it by dealing with Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Gomez was an All-Star, although, he never reached Hader’s level. Stearns may find a way to achieve this without dealing with Hader, yet I doubt it.
Brewers are not going to be last in prospects forever, and it’s not something to be overly concerned about as a fan. Know that Stearns has a plan and will figure this thing out.