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Is Francisco Cervelli a trade target?

The Milwaukee Brewers announced that Erik Kratz will return for the 2019 season, but is there an option in the NL Central that makes sense? Could they acquire Francisco Cervelli from the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Francisco Cervelli isn’t a terribly exciting option. His peak WAR value was 3.7, and he did that in 2015. He’s a representative starting Major League catcher who can get on-base at a .370+ clip. He will have a roster spot for as long as he wants to play, and the Milwaukee Brewers should look to add him for 2019.

How did Cervelli perform in 2018?

He was solid. Cervelli managed a 3.3 WAR that came with a .259/.378/.431 slash line and a solid performance behind the plate. He only managed 12 homers, but he also posted a 12.6% walk rate. He may not have a ton of power, but he doesn’t make a lot of outs. That’s an upgrade over what the Milwaukee Brewers had behind the plate in 2018.

Brewers catchers were rough last year?

They sure were! Manny Pina posted a .307 OBP in 337 plate appearances, and Erik Kratz managed a .280 OBP in 219 plate appearances. That’s a lot of outs.

How about Cervelli’s contract?

Well, it’s not long? 2019 will be Cervelli’s age-33 season, and he’s in the final year of a three-year deal. He’s set to earn $11.5 million next year. The good news is that there’s zero commitment to Cervelli beyond 2019. The bad news is $11.5 million for one season.

The Milwaukee Brewers could afford his contract, but they may have to cut costs elsewhere if they want to make other additions. This would mean that one or more of their top trade targets are probably gone.

What would a trade package look like?

That depends on how much of the contract the Milwaukee Brewers have to pay. If the Brewers take on the full value, the return for a one-year rental of Cervelli wouldn’t be much. The more of his contract the Pittsburgh Pirates eat, the better the prospect they can demand in return. However, Cervelli won’t cost any of their top trade chips.

Next: Should Xavier Cedeno return in 2019?

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Cervelli would be an upgrade over the current group of catchers on the Milwaukee Brewers roster, and he won’t come with a large commitment. The salary for 2019 is a bite, but he’s also playing for his next contract. The Brewers could try to catch lightning in a bottle with a capable catcher who gets on-base, and is playing for his final multi-year deal. He’s not exciting, but he could end up as an ‘under-the-radar’ move that GM David Stearns is becoming known for. If there isn’t a better option, Cervelli makes a lot of sense to acquire for 2019.

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