Yankees Offseason Trade Target: Brewers Starter Junior Guerra

Jul 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Junior Guerra (41) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Junior Guerra (41) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to shop 31-year-old rookie sensation Junior Guerra this winter, and the New York Yankees should take a long look at adding him for 2017.

Junior Guerra’s dominant rookie season for the Milwaukee Brewers was one of the most fun stories in baseball this year. Unfortunately for the Brew Crew, a 31-year-old rookie is not the kind of player you can build around, but they should be able to get a solid return for him this winter. Should the Yankees be interested? Let’s take a look.

The 31-year-old was originally signed as a catcher out of Venezuela all the way back in 2002 by the Atlanta Braves. He took up pitching in 2006, but never really put it together and fell out of affiliated ball following the 2008 season.

Guerra spent the next six seasons bouncing between the Venezuelan Winter League, the Mexican League, the American Association, and the Italian baseball league before signing with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent in 2015.

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Although he was obviously far older than his competition, Guerra still impressed in the upper-minors, pitching to a 3.13 ERA and striking out 11.3 per nine over 83.1 IP while splitting time between the rotation and the pen. He even got his first taste of the big leagues, allowing three earned runs on seven hits in four IP to finish the year.

The Brewers picked up Guerra on waivers in what turned out to be one of their most savvy moves of the offseason. After being promoted in May, Guerra went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 3.70 FIP in 121.1 IP (20 GS). Don’t let the pretty record and ERA fool you into thinking he’s an ace, but he does look like a quality number three or four guy going forward who isn’t arbitration eligible for another two seasons.

According to Brooks Baseball, Guerra throws five pitches, primarily relying on a mid-90’s fourseamer and a splitter. He will also mix in a sinker, slider, and a changeup. The splitter is generally seen as his most effective offering.

One red flag is that Junior Guerra did miss most of August with elbow inflammation and then was shut down for the season in mid September. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell insisted that Guerra was healthy to finish the year, but had reached his innings limit.

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Because of his limited track record, Guerra would probably cost less for the Yankees to acquire than many of the other potential starting pitching options available via trade this winter. He was basically found money for Milwaukee this year, so they would probably be thrilled to get a top-100 type guy in return. Should they dangle the disappointing Jorge Mateo? A one-for-one swap would probably be fair at this point.