The Brewers are a great trade partner for the Yankees. They are out of contention this season, but with 3 young stars (Braun, Gomez, Segura) and revenues dependent on ballpark attendance, Milwaukee may look for players that will make them stronger next season rather than for prospects. Further the Brewers are fairly solid offensively, but their rotation is awful. Plus of course, they are a mid-market team that needs to be cautious with their dollars.
Here's how the trade helps the Brew Crew.
1) Phelps is a solid back end starter with 5 more years of team control and other season at the minimum. Of the five players in the deal, he provides the most future value.
2) Financial relief: the Brewers save almost 5 million this season. More importantly, they ditch Ramirez's back-loaded contract. According to Cots, Ramirez is on the books for a whopping 16 million next season plus a 14 million dollar mutual option with a 4 million dollar buy-out in 2015 when Ramirez will turn 37.
Saving that 25 million goes hand in hand with benefit #3.
3) Hughes helps that remain competitive this season and more importantly, Melvin and company will be able to evaluate Hughes close up. Signing your own pitchers is much safer than signing pitchers from other teams and given the state of the Brewers rotation they'll be in the market for another starter in the winter. It might be Hughes.
Here's how the trade helps the Yankees.
1) Ramirez is old and battling knee problems (obviously if he badly re-injured his knee last night this post can be thrown out the window). Still even with that, his RC+ is 116 after 135 and 142 in the previous two seasons. No one thinks Rodriguez can play everyday, a age/health platoon might be the best bet.
2) Aoki is a dramatically underpaid average corner outfielder. Unlike most current Yankees he doesn't have much of a platoon split and he gets on base at a high rate. I'm sure Giradi would call for lots of hit and runs. Aoki is better than Wells and hits better than Ichiro now. Plus he's protection against a Granderson setback.
3) Axford was awful in April, but very good recently. He'd likely be a better option than Chamberlain. In addition, while Milwaukee wouldn't want to pay him his likely arbitration earned raise to setup next season, the Yanks might benefit from giving Axford the chance to close in 2014. That way any internally groomed closer or free agent signee wouldn't be replacing Rivera.
This trade really improves the Yankees' 2013 roster. It does place a lot more burden on Nova, Pineda and maybe Warren and Nunez, but given the sad state of the offense, trading from a strength needs to happen. There are significant financial costs in 2014, but absent a miracle the team is stepping back big time next season anyway. It's time to spend the Teixeira injury insurance money.