Milwaukee Brewers: 3 Under-the-Radar Trades the Brewers Can Make to Improve

Justin SchultzCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

Milwaukee Brewers: 3 Under-the-Radar Trades the Brewers Can Make to Improve

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    The Milwaukee Brewers made waves just after the All-Star break when they decided to trade Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels for promising shortstop Jean Segura.

    With their young pitching staff about to make their mark, the swap seems like a solid one for the Crew. However, Milwaukee may not be done swimming in the trade waters just yet.

    The bullpen needs a tune-up—well, maybe a little more than just a tune-up. With the exception of John Axford, Milwaukee's bullpen is in need of a significant upgrade at almost every position. While signing free-agent relievers is an option, the Brewers should look to see what's available via the trade market.

    GM Doug Melvin's first line of business, though, will be to sign a veteran starter. The odds are small that he will trade for one, so Melvin must scour the scarce pitching market.

    If Milwaukee executes any trades, it will most likely be for a top-notch reliever or a reliable bat off the bench. Although if the Brewers were to sign Josh Hamilton, Carlos Gomez would become expendable.

    Bullpen pitching is atop the want list, and Milwaukee may have to be willing to wave goodbye to some of its prospects to acquire such pitching.

    Here are three low-key trades that would improve the Brewers.

1. Mat Gamel for RP Brad Ziegler

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    Mat Gamel has become the odd man out in Milwaukee. After he suffered a season-ending torn ACL and Corey Hart began to develop at first base, Gamel became expendable.

    Gamel would have to win a job as a backup infielder—a role he may not be too fond of. His left-handed bat would be extremely valuable in pinch hitting spots, but the smart move for Milwaukee would be to trade him.

    Meanwhile, Brad Ziegler may be on his way out of Arizona. The Diamondbacks recently acquired Heath Bell from the Miami Marlins in a three-team trade. Earlier that day, they exercised a $6.5 million option on their closer, J.J. Putz. Arizona may not want to pay Ziegler now that the team has solidified its bullpen.

    Ziegler, who's under team control until 2014, had a noteworthy season in 2012. In 77 appearances, he posted a 2.79 ERA with 17 holds. The 33-year-old also struck out twice as many batters as he walked.

    With Paul Goldschmidt a fixture at first base in Arizona, Gamel could interest the Diamondbacks as a third baseman, a position where they have no depth. Cody Ransom won't be with the team next season, but Gamel would have to battle Ryan Wheeler for the job.

    Both teams would win in this scenario. Gamel is capable of being a 20-homer guy and Ziegler is one of the best late-inning relievers in the game.

2. Carlos Gomez for 2B Mark Ellis

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    This trade would only be plausible if the Brewers signed Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton or another everyday center fielder. If not, Gomez will stay in Milwaukee.

    If the Brewers sign a center fielder, shipping Gomez out would make sense. Milwaukee firmly believes that Logan Schafer is finally ready to make the jump to the big leagues and is a viable bench player. There would be no need for Gomez if that is the case.

    There is a need for a utility infielder, however. Jeff Bianchi showed some promise late in the season and could assume the role, but he would have to beat out the competition in spring training, which would be difficult.

    Trading for a veteran player like the Los Angeles Dodgers' Mark Ellis would solidify the utility infield position. Jean Segura would also benefit from having a player who's been around the league to show him the ropes.

    For the Dodgers, the journeyman hit .258 with seven home runs and 31 RBI. However, he is more known for his glove. He can play anywhere on the field and would give an aging Aramis Ramirez more rest. He could also take over if Segura falls apart.

    The Dodgers could be interested in attaining Gomez as a fourth outfielder. They may even entertain the thought of moving Matt Kemp to left field and replacing him with Gomez, as he is the better defender.

    Ellis would be a nice bench piece for Milwaukee, and Gomez would provide insurance for L.A. if Kemp goes down with another injury.

Martin Maldonado for RP Ryan Cook

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    Martin Maldonado should draw a lot of interest from teams across MLB. His play in Jonathan Lucroy's absence proved that he is capable of being an above-average catcher.

    If the Brewers trade him, they should sell high. A dominant reliever like Ryan Cook of the Oakland Athletics should be on their radar.

    Maldonado, more known for his defense behind the plate, erupted with the bat in 2012. The 26-year-old batted .266 with eight home runs and 30 RBI in just 78 games. No one saw this type of production coming, which is why Milwaukee may be inclined to trade him.

    Ryan Cook had a superb year for Oakland and was crucial in its quest for the American League West title. Cook, 25, recorded a 2.09 ERA in 71 appearances. He also managed to rack up 14 saves.

    Cook has great command, as he struck out 80 hitters while only walking 27. With many years of arbitration left, though, Cook could come rather cheaply.

    Oakland's catching situation is up for grabs. George Kottaras is a backup at best, and the prized-prospect of the Gio Gonzalez trade, Derek Norris, only hit .207 last year, although he does have some major power. In 60 games, he blasted seven home runs while driving in 34 runs. Still, Maldonado could interest the A's.

    Somehow, the Brewers must acquire relief pitching. If that means giving up a player like Maldonado, then so be it. This trade is very unlikely to happen, but it's interesting nonetheless.