Milwaukee Brewers: Is Trading for Kyle Seager the Solution at 3B?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 05: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners hits a home run in the twelfth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 05: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners hits a home run in the twelfth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Brewers put together their roster for the 2020 season, there is still a huge void at third base. So is trading for Kyle Seager the answer?

While we haven’t seen David Stearns make any splash free agent signings that so many fans have been hoping for, he is slowly but surely putting together the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster for the upcoming season after gutting it prior to the Winter Meetings. They’ve added some starting pitching and appear to have their solution at first base, along with a few other moves. However, one huge hole that remains is at third base.

The top free agent options Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas have each signed long-term deals and it sounds like Josh Donaldson will be joining them shortly. After those three players, other free agents include Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier. But another alternative is making a trade for Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners who is reportedly available for the right price.

The Mariners are currently in the midst of a rebuild and at this stage they would rather have prospects than Seager’s lucrative contract, but are the Brewers a potential landing spot?

Seager signed a contract extension prior to the 2015 season and from that point through 2018, he would slash .254/.322/.450 with 105 home runs and an OPS+ of 112 during that span. However, over the last two seasons there have been some concerns as well.

In 2018, Seager would finish with a career low batting average of .221 and a career low OPS of .673. Then in 2019 he would miss the beginning of the season with an injury and although he’d finish with a .239 average and a .789 OPS, those final number were buoyed by one really good month of August where he had a 1.116 OPS.

But to his credit, Seager finished with a 112 OPS+, in fact, there have only been two seasons during his nine-year career where he finished below average in that category. We also saw his walk rate increase by 3 percent and his strikeout rate drop by over 2 percent last year as well. Also of note, he finished 2019 with an fWAR of 2.9 and for some context, Mike Moustakas finished at 2.8.

For arguments sake, let’s say the Milwaukee Brewers are comfortable with having Seager’s bat in the lineup, there are still a few road blocks to navigate, with the biggest being his contract.

Seager’s contract extension back in 2015 was for seven years – $100 million and he is still owed $19 million in 2020, $18 million in 2021 and the Mariners have a $15 million club option for 2022. But here’s the kicker, if traded that club option becomes a player option, meaning if the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Seager, they would still owe him $52 million over the next three seasons.

And while that is still much cheaper than Rendon, Moustakas or Donaldson, for a small market team like the Brewers who are looking to extend Christian Yelich in the near future, that is a big contract to absorb. Now, the Mariners could sweeten the deal by giving Milwaukee a prospect or two, or take on some of his salary, however, for a player that has seen his numbers drop-off the last two seasons, the Brewers would have to be very confident that he could bounce-back and live up to this contract.

Another road block is in regards to what it would take to get Seager to Milwaukee. The Brewers are looking to compete, so trading away someone from the big league roster isn’t an avenue they’d like to explore, that is unless the return is huge. Additionally, with all of the moves they have made in recent seasons, the farm system isn’t as strong as it used to be, which begs the question, would they be willing to part with a few more prospects?

To get an idea of what the cost to acquire Seager might be, Eno Sarris of The Athletic proposed that the Milwaukee Brewers trade away outfielder Corey Ray, catcher Jacob Nottingham, and pitcher Dylan File in return for Seager.

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As you can see there are a number of moving parts to navigate in this trade and while Stearns has certainly surprised us in the past with a trade for Yelich and the free agent signings of Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Yasmani Grandal, he’s rarely been willing to take on this amount of money over a multiple year period. In the end I don’t think this is a deal that the Milwaukee Brewers make, but as I just mentioned, David Stearns has caught us off guard before.

All stats via Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Spotrac