The Milwaukee Brewers finally entered the trading market on Sunday when they acquired versatile infielder, Felipe Lopez, from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lopez is expected to join the Brewers in Pittsburgh on Monday and will become the every-day second baseman for the team.
The Brewers gave up two minor league prospects in the deal, neither of whom had much of a future with the Brewers.
Cole Gillespie is an outfielder that has spent the year at Triple A Nashville. He is batting .242 in 75 games. Gillespie, 25, has decent power, having hit 24 extra base hits this season. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart have the corner outfield spots manned for the next few years, and Gillespie doesn't translate to a centerfielder in the majors, so he was expendable. He was number 14 in the Brewers' prospect depth chart.
Roque Mercedes was the second prospect given up by the Brewers. Mercedes is a converted closer and has had some success this season with Brevard County in Single A ball. The 22-year-old righty is 1-1, with six saves in 29 games. He owns a 1.08 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. He was ranked number 50 in the Brewers' prospect depth chart.
The switch-hitting Lopez comes to Milwaukee with the second -best on-base percentage in the National League from the leadoff spot, at .372. He's a switch hitter that will play every day for the Brewers. For the season, Lopez is batting .301 with six home runs, 18 doubles, and 25 runs batted in.
Lopez's addition will allow Craig Counsell to go back to the bench and serve as a role player, which is where his best value lies. Counsell will likely share time at third base with Casey McGehee.
Counsell is too old to be an everyday player over an entire season, and McGehee is still nursing nagging injuries that have seen his play drop off in the last couple of weeks. Allowing the two of them to split time will maximize both their talents.
The addition of Lopez also meant a roster spot needed to become available. Mat Gamel was sent back down to Nashville. Gamel will now be able to play every day and get the regular at-bats that are so important to a player of Gamel's age and experience. Personally, I think this was done to showcase Gamel's skills for a bigger trade that is still to come.
Lopez will become a free agent at the end of the season. At the moment, he's expected to be a Type B free agent, meaning the Brewers would get draft pick compensation in the 2010 Draft if they offer him arbitration.
The Brewers are in a good spot with Lopez. They can re-sign him this winter if Rickie Weeks isn't recovered from his wrist injury. If Weeks is healthy, they can sign him as great depth for their infield next year.
Fans shouldn't expect the Brewers to be done making deals. They have solidified their offense with the addition of Lopez, but the big splash will be made when the Brewers bring back the pitcher to make their rotation playoff ready.
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