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Time for Brewers to make a trade

July 10, 2014

Six years ago this week, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians in one of the greatest deadline deals in history.

With his team owning the National League’s best record, could general manager Doug Melvin make another big splash this month?

Past moves show it can’t be ruled out. But, it seems unlikely.

Still, the Brewers certainly could use some help.

At 52-40 entering Thursday’s game, Milwaukee has been the best team in the NL through 92 games. But that mark only puts them one game ahead of the 2008 Brewers and three ahead of the 2011 club.

So, what should Melvin do?

Trading for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price would be the closest thing to replicating the ’08 Sabathia deal. Price, the 2012 Cy Young winner, could dominate the NL for half a season much the way Sabathia did.

But even if the Rays are willing to deal Price, the Brewers’ farm system likely doesn’t have the prospects to compete for the top prize of this year’s trade deadline.

With right-handers Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Brandon McCarthy all off the market as well, few available starters remain to bolster the rotation.

Bullpen help, therefore, is the most likely trade focus for the Brewers.

San Diego right-handers Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street are among the best available, along with Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria. All three make sense and none would be pure rentals: Benoit is signed through 2015, while Street and Soria have club options for next season.

Any of the three could fill the void left by injured relievers Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson. And each could combine to form a lights-out late-inning combination with lefties Will Smith and Zach Duke and All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Melvin has expressed interest in adding a right-handed reliever, and Benoit, Street and Soria should be near the top of the list. Beyond the bullpen, middle-infield or first-base help could be likely trade targets.

Whatever the Brewers do, what they can’t do — as evidenced by losing eight of their last nine — is sit back and wait to improve.

Now is the time to go out and make a move.

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