Following Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia, the Milwaukee Brewers announced a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Brewers sent Ji-Man Choi to the Rays in exchange for Brad Miller (and cash). Below is the text of the official press release.
This trade is perfectly acceptable and possibly quite shrewd. In Choi, the Brewers had a usable depth piece who participated and contributed during some Interleague games in American League ballparks while Eric Thames was on the Disabled List. He directly contributed to more than one win, including supplying the game-winning RBI in last Saturday’s win against the Phillies with his pinch-hit grand slam.
To be fair though, with Thames set to return from the DL on Monday, Choi was the fourth option at first base and perhaps even the sixth option to play left field just among the other players rostered on the current 25-Man. If everyone is healthy, he doesn’t have a role with the big league club.
Brewers General Manager David Stearns was able to turn that asset over into a different kind altogether in Miller, 28, a veteran infielder who is two seasons removed from hammering 30 home runs while playing passable defense at shortstop. Miller was designated for assignment by the Rays on Thursday so that they could call up one of their top prospects — conveniently far enough behind the generally assumed Super 2 deadline — and continue seeing what they have in their system.
Miller had played defensively at both second and first base for the Rays this season, and in fact hasn’t played shortstop since that 30-home run season of 2016, but his experience and versatility fit right in with Stearns’ typical veteran acquisitions over the years. Miller has been much better at the plate against right-handed pitching over his career, though he hasn’t been awful facing southpaws to this point in 2018.
With the ability to contribute at multiple positions including very possibly giving the Brewers any offense at all from shortstop — a position which entering play on Sunday was slashing .193/.242/.275/.517 in 2018 — for the cost of a reserve player is the kind shot that Stearns has shown a willingness to take during his tenure at the helm of Milwaukee’s ship.
The Brewers and Rays were able to execute a mutually beneficial trade, one in which Stearns grabbed a player who could benefit the big league club in Milwaukee in ways that Choi simply can’t. It doesn’t get much more sensible than that.