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Possible Trades to Upgrade Brewers at SS

In the heat of a four-headed pennant race, the Brewers could certainly benefit from some trade deadline reinforcements. In particular, Milwaukee should look for upgrades at shortstop. Starter Jean Segura has failed to live up to high expectations, posting a disappointing .585 OPS and 56 wRC+. Backups Jeff Bianchi (2 wRC+, sub-Mendoza .186 slugging) and the recently reacquired Irving Falu (-19 wRC+) are non-factors offensively. The latest experiment, playing outfielder Elian Herrera at shortstop, hardly seems feasible long term. All told, Brewers shortstops sit dead last in the majors with a microscopic 44 wRC+. Fortunately, plenty of shortstops appear available in the coming weeks. Even if the more salivating possibilities – such as Troy Tulowitzki or Starlin Castro – get posted on the block, they would cost too much for the Brew Crew. Still, Milwaukee will have options if they look for an improvement. The Brewers should consider trading for Asdrubal Cabrera or Sean Rodriguez to improve their shortstop performance.

Asdrubal Cabrera would help Milwaukee during the ultracompetitive 2014 stretch run. The 28-year-old Venezuelan has put together another solid season, compiling a 97 wRC+ and .701 OPS. To be fair, Cabrera’s on-base skills fail to impress, as his .308 OBP ranks second last among qualifying AL shortstops. Yet Cabrera provides power. His 9 homers and .146 ISO lead all Junior Circuit shortstops. Cabrera makes sense financially as well. Although his $10 million salary may appear prohibitive, Cabrera’s contract expires at the end of this season. Milwaukee would not become chained to an expensive long term burden. While the Indians likely consider themselves contenders, the Tribe still stands to gain by trading Cabrera. Not only would Cleveland snag a return on an impending free agent departer, they also open up shortstop for their stud prospect Francisco Lindor. If Milwaukee got two months of Cabrera for a pitcher and a few minor leaguers, he could help the club drive to the postseason.

Sean Rodriguez provides a sleeper option for the Brewers. In fact, Rodriguez has actually outperformed Cabrera with a 126 wRC+ and an .808 OPS. While not strictly a shortstop, during his career the utility man has logged 834.2 innings in the six-hole, second most of any position. Rodriguez’ versatility would come in handy towards the end of the marathon.  Further, his -0.6 UZR/150 at short may seem mediocre, but it represents an immediate upgrade from Segura’s -6.0 career  UZR/150 mark. Financially, the 29-year-old costs just $1.5 million and becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The underachieving Rays may opt to deal him if they cannot claw back into the AL East battle. Of course, the Tampa front office typically draws tough bargains that could make a used car salesman proud. Still, Rodriguez undoubtedly costs the Brewers less than Cabrera would, while providing needed assistance down the stretch.

Although the Brewers should look for temporary shortstop upgrades, Segura still represents the team’s best long term option. Under team control through 2018, the 24-year-old has potential to provide immense value to Milwaukee. While Segura’s heartbreaking off field tragedy lends perspective to any baseball struggles, the Brewers cannot afford to sit back and hope his season rebounds. As noted, both Cabrera and Rodriguez become free agents after 2014, and would not impinge upon Segura’s future role as the starter. Yet if Milwaukee fails to find a temporary fix to the hole at shortstop, they may regret their inactivity when October rolls around.

(Image: Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)