Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Gio Gonzalez on Night of Waiver Deadline

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Gio Gonzalez
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 24: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals in action during a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 24, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The waiver deadline hit Friday night, and several teams made last-minute moves to boost their roster as we enter the stretch run. The Milwaukee Brewers were particularly active on Friday night. They made three separate deals to acquire Xavier Cedeño, Gio Gonzalez, and Curtis Granderson.

Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Gio Gonzalez and Two Other Players Ahead of Waiver Trade Deadline

The first move the Brewers made went down on Friday afternoon. They acquired left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeño from the Chicago White Sox.

Cedeño inked a minor-league deal with the White Sox this past off-season, and he began the season pitching for their Triple-A affiliate. He excelled in twenty minor-league outings, producing a 1.25 ERA. His contract was selected by the parent club in June, and he has continued to produce since then. Cedeño has worked to a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings for the Sox. Deserved Run Average is particularly bullish on his body of work this year; he’s boasting a 1.95 DRA, and DRA- rates him as 56 percent better than a league average pitcher.

Cedeño has managed a career-best strikeout rate (9.95 K/9) and has allowed just one home run. Unlike some of the other players the Brewers have acquired, he’s under control beyond this season through arbitration. The Brewer bullpen struggled in August, and Cedeño gives the team another option against left-handed hitters. Because he has no obvious platoon splits this season, he could also see some high leverage work facing opposing hitters from both sides.

In return, the Brewers are sending outfielder Bryan Connell and pitcher Johan Dominguez to the White Sox. Connell owns a .787 OPS and Dominguez has posted a 0.82 ERA. Both players are playing at the rookie level of the minor leagues.

Interestingly, the Brewers and White Sox have now teamed up for three different trades in two years. All of these trades have sent a reliever to the Brewers. Milwaukee acquired Anthony Swarzak last season and traded for Joakim Soria this past July. Now Cedeño becomes the latest arm to head from Chicago to Milwaukee.

Brewers Acquire Gio Gonzalez

Perhaps the highest-profile trade the Brewers made this summer was the deal they swung for southpaw Gio Gonzalez last night. In return for Gonzalez and international slot money, the Brewers sent shortstop Gilbert Lara and catcher/first baseman KJ Harrison to the Nationals.

Lara and Harrison were both playing for the Brewers A-level affiliate, and both were OPS-ing under .700 this year.

All season, fans and pundits were demanding that the Brewers trade for a starter, ignoring the fact that their rotation was among the top-five in ERA in the Majors for the majority of the year. Additionally, many of the starters on the market were mediocre or even well below-average. Gonzalez falls into that grouping, having scuffled to a 4.57 ERA in 27 starts. He doesn’t really seem like much of an upgrade for his rotation; the Brewers currently have five starters who have out-pitched Gonzalez this season. For what it’s worth, Gonzalez isn’t going to slot into the rotation immediately:

The biggest issue for Gonzalez has been walks. His BB/9 currently sits at 4.3 per nine innings, his highest rate since 2009. The extra free passes have contributed to a spike in WHIP. Last year, Gonzalez posted a 1.18 WHIP. This year, it’s up to 1.53.

Interestingly, Gonzalez appears to have changed his approach despite a successful 2017 season. He threw his fastball a lot last season (36.2% of the time), and it was a very successful pitch (.294 wOBA). This year, he’s only throwing it 27.9% of the time. In its place, he’s throwing significantly more sinkers (28.5%). The only problem is that his sinker hasn’t been particularly effective this year (.358 wOBA). Meanwhile, his fastball has continued to be effective when he has thrown it. In fact, it’s been even better than it was last year. Opposing hitters have managed just a .265 wOBA against it, and it’s getting more swings and misses than it did last year (24.5%). Perhaps pitching coach Derek Johnson will tell Gonzalez to be more aggressive with his fastball.

Curtis Granderson Acquired for Bench Depth

With their final move of the evening, the Brewers added some bench depth and a solid veteran clubhouse presence. They added outfielder Curtis Granderson from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for outfield prospect Demi Orimoloye.

Granderson figures to serve as a lefty bat off the bench who can also play in the corner outfield positions. He’s been particularly solid against right-handed pitching this year, hitting for a .792 OPS to go along with 11 home runs. He also gives the team a good veteran presence in the clubhouse. He’s played in 57 postseason games over the course of his career.

Orimoloye, 21, has had mixed results in the lower minors this year. He started off well at the A-level, hitting for a 117 wRC+. He has struggled since being promoted to A-advanced, managing just a 92 wRC+ with a troubling 27% strikeout rate.

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