Milwaukee Brewers Checked In On Josh Donaldson and Trevor Story

Jul 18, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) makes a throw to first in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) makes a throw to first in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

At 58-42 on the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have already established themselves as one of the better teams in the National League. And with a starting rotation that is considered to be one of the best in baseball, Milwaukee already is a World Series contender. But one big addition at the trade deadline is all it could take to put them over the top and potentially into a new stratosphere.

Since taking over as the lead personnel decision-maker for this Milwaukee Brewers team, David Stearns has vowed to be in on every conversation, and perhaps that is what’s taking place here, but according to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Crew has reportedly checked in on both Josh Donaldson and Trevor Story. Here is what you need to know.

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Minnesota Twins

Donaldson is signed through the 2024 season with Minnesota, and as Heyman notes in his tweet, that is what could be the real hurdle for the Milwaukee Brewers as he is still owed $60 million through the 2023 season before the club option takes effect in 2024.

While we never truly know what Stearns and the Brewers have up their sleeves with players, the initial thought is that Donaldson would take over as the everyday third baseman, moving Luis Urias into a true utility role. Over his 11 year career, Donaldson is slashing .271/.368/.507, totaling an .875 OPS with a well above average OPS+ of 136.

This season specifically, Donaldson is batting .253 with an .843 OPS. He also has 16 home runs, 15 doubles and has matched his career average with a 136 OPS+. As the Brewers love, Donaldson is drawing walks at a high rate, and he’s striking out 19.8 percent of the time, which is less than the league average.

A majority of Donaldson’s peripheral numbers, such as max exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xSLG, Barrel rate, and more, all rank in the 90th percentile or higher this season. By Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average metric, he has also been much better defensively this season than Urias.

On paper, this move makes a lot of sense, adding a big bat to this lineup, but it doesn’t feel like one that the Milwaukee Brewers will make. Donaldson is 35-years-old and is getting paid $21 million per year through 2023–those two things alone typically are enough to keep Stearns away.

Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

The other big-name apparently on the Milwaukee Brewers’ list is Trevor Story, the shortstop from the Colorado Rockies. Similar to Donaldson, with Willy Adames already at short — and playing quite well, by the way — there would have to be some defensive repositioning, but as I’ve already said, it’s not as if the Brewers are afraid of that.

Story made his big league debut with Colorado in 2016 and over that span has slashed .272/.339/.521 with an .860 OPS and an OPS+ of 111–the league average is 100. Because Story does call the very hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field home, it’s important to mention that his career OPS at home is .971, but on the road, it is .745.

This season, Story’s numbers are down compared to his career averages with a .240 average over 86 games and an OPS of .733 with a below-average OPS+ of 89. He’s hit 12 home runs, 18 doubles, and a pair of triples. While it’s improved over his career, Story does tend to strike out at an above-average clip, and he doesn’t draw a ton of walks either. And it’s not just Story’s average and OPS that are down; many of his underlying numbers are as well.

If the Milwaukee Brewers did acquire Story, he would only be a rental, as 2021 is the final year of his current deal, and the Crew would also be on the hook for what is left of his $17.5 million salary.

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These are the types of moves that get fans excited, and I certainly wouldn’t say that there is no chance that they happen–we never truly know what moves Stearns has up his sleeves. But as Heyman’s reports say, I believe that this was more so Stearns doing his due diligence rather than the team actively looking to make a deal.

The MLB trade deadline is this Friday, and you can bet that the Brewers will make a move or two before then, specifically by adding to the bullpen. We will see if they also try to bolster the offense well.