The Milwaukee Brewers made waves by trading away veteran outfielder/first baseman Mark Kahn. The decision came before Monday’s deadline for the Brewers to call up Canha’s $11.5MM option for 2024. Surprisingly, they don’t have to make that decision.
In his brief tenure with the Brewers, Canha has exceeded expectations, slashing .287/.373/.427 with an .800 OPS over 50 games. This performance surpassed his career averages of .250/.349/.422 and .722 OPS. Kanha’s lackluster performance in Milwaukee raises serious doubts about his ability to continue that kind of production this coming season, especially as he turns 35.
The prospect of being below his career average could be a big factor in the Brewers’ decision to trade him. General manager Matt Arnold may have foreseen this potential dip in Kanha’s performance, making this unexpected trade a logical basis.
In the broader financial landscape, brewers are juggling different priorities. Manager Craig Counsell, arguably the most successful manager in Brewers history, is exploring free agency in search of a significant salary increase. Steeped in Brewers history, Counsell, a Wisconsin native, has compiled winning records in six of his nine seasons as manager and is attracting significant interest in free agency. It’s now up to the Brewers to make sure he returns by matching the huge offer he’s receiving.
The injury to star pitcher Brandon Woodruff for the entire 2024 season is another devastating blow to the Brewers. Woodruff, a key member of the team’s dominant pitching staff, is not only a quality arm, but also a leader and longtime member of the team. This setback will force the Brewers to reevaluate their strategy throughout the offseason, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding Corbin Burns, who is entering the final year of his contract. According to GM Matt Arnold, the search for more pitching depth now takes on more urgency.
The $11.5MM left over from Kanha’s departure (or at least $2MM in terms of acquisitions) will be a critical asset that can be diverted to a more impactful cause. This includes the return of counsel or efforts to find a qualified replacement for Woodruff. As the brewers face financial challenges and navigate unexpected obstacles, the focus is on ensuring that every dollar saved is channeled into high-impact strategic investments.
The decision to part ways with Kanha in the outfield suits the team’s depth at that position. The Brewers boast seven other outfielders on the 40-man roster, along with prospects for the debut of infielder Jackson Churio in 2024. This off-field surplus makes Kanha’s departure a strategic move, freeing up funds and resources for more pressing needs (Woodruff & Counsell).
However, the trade leaves a void at the first base position for the upcoming season. With Canha and Carlos Santana in the picture, options are limited to Rowdy Tellez and Owen Miller. The decline in teleth production has raised concerns, prompting the brewers to look for improvements in the coming months.
Instead of just cutting Canna’s pick, the Brewers used it to acquire 25-year-old prospect Blake Holub. Holub, a 15th-round pick by Detroit in 2021, showed significant improvement in 2023, reaching Double-A for the first time and putting up impressive stats in relief.
Overall, I rate this business a cautiously B-. The focus on Kanha’s potential rebounding and upside in the field makes trading him reasonable. Strategic use of your savings is a critical factor that can make or break your results as the season progresses.
While fans may lament Khanha’s departure, the trade makes sense given the overall roster and the need to make strategic financial decisions for next season. As long as the money from the Kanha deal goes somewhere worthwhile, this trade isn’t going to hurt going forward.