The Milwaukee Brewers were the recipients of some devastating news as they announced Friday that former All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff is expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season. With the Brewers looking to make a sixth postseason appearance in seven seasons, they are going to need to add an arm to their starting rotation. This is where the Cleveland Guardians come into the picture.
Cleveland is currently trying to navigate their own set of offseason trials, including who their next manager will be, but more pertinent to the conversation at hand, what they will do with Shane Bieber. The former Cy Young Award winner has been the topic of trade rumors for the past two seasons, and there was some expectation that the Guardians would deal him before last year's deadline if he had not gone down with an injury. Bieber should garner some level of interest on the trade market when the season is officially over, and Milwaukee could very well be a team that could be interested in his services given the circumstances.
It must be said that Cleveland is extremely unlikely to pry away top outfield prospect Jackson Chourio away from the Brewers, considering Bieber is entering his final year before becoming an unrestricted free agent. But perhaps they may be able to acquire a few lesser prospects from Milwaukee if they decided to go the quantity route that they have done so many times before. The Guardians may be able to find a way to agree to a major league player-for-player swap if there is someone that they are interested in that the Brewers would be willing to part ways with. This type of trade would be a way to benefit both teams, as Cleveland needs help in the position player department, while Milwaukee needs to find a way to make up for the loss of Woodruff next year.
The Guardians are in a position where trading Bieber makes much more sense than it would have this time last year. Cleveland saw the emergence of three rookies who should be able to carry the rotation moving forward. Now that their first year in the bigs is behind them, it is significantly more justifiable to move Bieber now, knowing that they are a more than competent group to lead the next era of Guardians starting pitching.
What this all comes down to is recognizing that the Guardians have an area of depth that they can deal from, and a player from that group that they are unlikely to agree to a long-term deal with. Discussing a Bieber deal with Milwaukee would put Cleveland in a rare position of leverage when compared to trade talks with most other teams. Smart organizations seize opportunities when presented to them and this is one that would certainly qualify.