The Minnesota Twins announced today that Scott Baker won the 5th spot in their rotation, sending Kevin Slowey to the bullpen. Aaron Gleeman from Hardball Talk seems to think the Twins would trade him for an impact reliever. And hey, what do you know — the Brewers are looking for a (temporary) fifth starter and seem to have a few spare bullpen arms. You know where I’m going with this.
I’ll probably be far from the only person to suggest that the Brewers look at Slowey to fill that last rotation spot, so I’ll just put my fantasy proposal out there — Slowey for Kameron Loe, straight up. It’s a deal that would seem to make sense for both sides.
Why would it work for the Brewers?
Slowey is stretched out to start, unlike most of the other good options the Brewers have internally. He’s also significantly better than the internal options that are apparently stretched out or being considered (Marco Estrada, Eulogio de la Cruz). There’s even a decent chance he’s better than two of the four guys already expected to be in the rotation to start the year — in two of the past three seasons, he’s posted a FIP below 4, and has shown some good control over his career by averaging 1.50 BB/9. In other words, there’s no reason to believe this would be a move that would be made just to fill a few starts in April — he’d be an upgrade over Chris Narveson and probably even Randy Wolf once the rotation returns to full strength.
Losing Loe out of the bullpen would hurt, but it wouldn’t be a crippling loss. He wound up being the Brewers’ most dependable reliever outside of John Axford last season, and it seems like he’s found his calling in the bullpen, where he can let loose on his pitches and get some extra movement on his sinker. Loe still struggled to get left-handed batters out, though, and since we’re only working off of 58 relief innings last season, there’s always the chance Loe regresses this year. Loe’s ability to draw groundballs would be missed out of the bullpen, but Rule 5 pick Pat Egan has looked good this spring and brings a similar skill set. This could potentially be an opportunity for Doug Melvin and the Brewers to sell high on a reliever for a change, instead of buying high.
So why, then, would this work for the Twins?
If they do want help in the back end of their bullpen, Loe would seem to be an upgrade over most of the names they’re considering. While his struggles against left-handers might be concerning to another team in a deal, he still does a very good job of keeping the ball in the park (0.93 HR/9, 59.4% GB%) — and moving to Target Field should only help those numbers. The ability to cover multiple innings could also be appealing to a team that currently has a group of one-inning-or-less pitchers (Nathan, Mijares, Capps).
The Twins have soured on Slowey for one reason or another, even though it would probably be in their best interests to not only keep him but put him in the rotation over Nick Blackburn. Compared to Loe, could they get similar production from Slowey out of the bullpen and keep some rotation depth in case Francisco Liriano or anyone else gets hurt? Sure. But for whatever reason, the Slowey ship has seemingly sailed in Minnesota. If he’s not in their future plans, they may as well get a useful piece for him.