The Brewers announced to reporters, including Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a series of roster moves before today’s game. Correct Freddy Peralta returned from the 60-day injured list, and a deadline acquisition Matt Bush added to the roster. Infielder Keston Hiura was also recalled. In corresponding moves, choose the righty club Peter Strzelecki and named right Dinelson Lamet and a catcher Pedro Severino for assignment.
Lamet being cut from the roster is surprising, as he was acquired from the Padres a few days ago as part of the Josh Hader trade. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com he relayed a quote from Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, trying to explain. “Dinelson has a good arm and was included in the trade to help balance the deal,” says Stearns. “As subsequent transactions went through, the roster got tougher. We are hopeful that we will be able to keep it in our system.”
The reference to “subsequent transactions” seems to imply that the Brewers completed other trades that forced Lamet out of their plans. Lamet, along with the other players in Hader’s deal, were acquired on Monday, the day before the trade deadline. As the deadline played out yesterday, the club sent Bush and Trevor Rosenthal in specific markets. The Brewers may value those pitchers more than they see Lamet, which is why Lamet lost his roster spot today.
Although Lamet technically has options left, Hogg points out that he recently surpassed five years of MLB service time. Players who pass that threshold cannot be selected without their consent, meaning Lamet would have to be DFAed to be removed from the roster. That also means that, should Lamet clear waivers, he would have the right to decline a full assignment and elect free agency without forfeiting his salary, as all players beyond five years of MLB service can.
In fact, it would be a big surprise if Lamet cleared waivers, given his track record and modest salary. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball during the shortened 2020 season, logging a 2.09 ERA over 12 starts with a 34.8% strikeout rate and a 7.5% walk rate. He has dealt with injury woes in subsequent seasons, relegating him to bullpen duty and occasionally getting optioned to the minors. However, he is making a modest salary of $4.775MM this year and can be retained for another season through arbitration. Due to his injuries, underperformance and the amount of time he spent in the minors, he probably wouldn’t earn a big raise for 2023.
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, it complicates Lamet’s status. For one thing, the Brewers won’t be able to work out a deal to send Lamet elsewhere, as they would have been able to do before the deadline. Conversely, for clubs seeking bullpen upgrades from outside their organization, waiver claims are now the only way to do so. It looks like some club will give Lamet a shot, as a contender looking for a boost down the stretch or a rebuilding team that will give him some time to regain his former form and possibly trade him in the offseason or the next year.
Beyond Lamet’s status, this will immediately change the calculus for considering a Hader trade. “The players we are acquiring in this trade help ensure that the future of the Milwaukee Brewers remains bright and will not affect our desire and expectation to win today,” is how Stearns described the trade at the time . “This combination of current Major League talent and high-end prospects furthers our goal of getting as many bites of the apple as possible and, ultimately, bringing a World Series to Milwaukee. It’s hard to trade good players on good teams, and that’s certainly the case with Josh. We also recognize that in order to give our organization the best chance of sustained competitiveness, to avoid the long down times that so many organizations experience, we have to make decisions that are not easy.” Two of the four players got Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz, have already been assigned to minor league clubs. Although they could be called up later in the year, that leaves it for now Taylor Rogers as the lone player from the trade on the big league roster. While Rogers is certainly a fine player, few would argue that he could pitch at Hader’s elite level.
As for Severino, he recently returned from an 80-game suspension after a positive PED test. That gave the Brewers a surplus of catchers, as Omar Narvaez and Victor Caratini both played well in Severino’s absence. He was reported in the last few days that Narvaez was drawing trade interest, although nothing came together before the deadline. Instead, the club has decided to simply move on from Severino and stick with the Narvaez-Caratini pairing.
As for Peralta, he landed in IL in May due to a shoulder injury and now returns after more than two months out. He had a great breakout last year, pitching to a 2.81 ERA and 33.6% strikeout rate. This year, his performance dropped a bit, perhaps because of the shoulder issues. He had a 4.42 ERA and a 30.3% strikeout rate, still high but not as dominant, before landing on the shelf. If his health issues are behind him and he can return to his 2021 form, he will help the Brewers form one of the worst rotations in the sport, coming up next to Corbin Burns, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby.