The Milwaukee Brewers find themselves at a pivotal crossroads as a franchise.
Unlike most mid-market franchises, the Brewers woes aren't the surefire sign of a fire sale and lengthy rebuilding process. Although there are structural issues with this team that point to bolstering their talent pool by trading some major league talent to this year's contenders.
However, some selling could mean being a strong contender next season.
The hot rumor, of course, has Prince Fielder available and several teams in hot pursuit of his services. The power hitting Fielder is viewed by many as a middle of the order cornerstone. A view shared by super agent, and mid-market nemesis, Scott Boras.
With his outlandish demands and thirst for the biggest deal, Boras is almost certain to steer Fielder to a bigger market and more lucrative contract than the Brewers could offer.
It appears Fielder's greater value to the Brewers is the bounty of major league ready prospects he would net for Milwaukee. One potential scenario could have him going to the Chicago White Sox for some combination of second baseman Gordon Beckham, starting pitcher Daniel Hudson, third baseman Dayan Viciendo, and other prospects. It is no secret that White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams always gets his man even if it means overpaying so there is a good chance the Brewers could get the best value from Williams.
Is that the only move?
While this means they would acquire great talent with huge upside, but it would create a log jam in the infield. This means the Brewers could sell high on Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee, and possibly Mat Gamel. These players could help bulk up on lower level minor league talent, back-of-the-rotation starters, or relievers.
Speaking of selling high, there is the matter of Corey Hart. The outfielder is having the classic trap year for those who think he is going to hit at this pace for the rest of the prime years in his career. His numbers year to year suggest he is far from a sure bet and it behooves the Brewers to sell him to the highest bidder immediately. With the Giants, Rays, and Padres rumored to be interested, there is no doubt Hart could increase depth for the Brewers on the major league level.
How about Hart for Matt Garza or Ben Zobrist or B.J. Upton? That sounds like something that could happen.
Other veterans like Craig Counsell, Randy Wolf, LaTroy Hawkins, or Jim Edmonds could also bring back players that could provide organizational depth in key areas of need.
Using the current payroll $90 million and project their current obligations, with potential deals being taken on by trades, at about $30 million to spend. That is enough space to add significant talent to reload for a serious run.
It could mean making a free agent splash and signing Adam Dunn. Dunn makes sense for the Brewers and his price tag will be significantly less than Boras' bonkers asking price for Prince Fielder.
The rest could be used to grab workhorse Javier Vazquez for significantly less than many teams are expected to offer Cliff Lee. They could also invest in some bullpen help like Jon Rauch or Matt Guerrier.
The Brewers moves at the deadline could feel like a rebuilding project, but with proper foresight this could retool this team for a more serious run over the next five years.
So let the rumors run wild, but please don't stand pat. Milwaukee is ready to see a true contender.