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Brewers Keep Adding, Acquire Gio Gonzalez From Nationals

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Gio Gonzalez (Photo by Cliff Welch)

The Brewers aren’t messing around in their push for their first postseason berth since 2011. They just keep adding and adding and adding.

The Brewers acquired Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals on Friday evening, just over an hour before the waiver trade deadline. In return Milwaukee sent minor league catcher/first baseman K.J. Harrison and shortstop Gilbert Lara to Washington.

Gonzalez is the fourth former All-Star the Brewers acquired in the last month for their playoff push. Milwaukee acquired Mike MoustakasJonathan Schoop and Joakim Soria in July, and now add Gonzalez to their starting rotation.

It was the second trade Milwaukee made on Friday. They also brought in lefthanded reliever Xavier Cedeno in exchange for a pair of prospects earlier in the day.

BREWERS ACQUIRE:

Gio Gonzalez, LHP
Age: 32

Gonzalez finished sixth in National League Cy Young voting a year ago and got off to a hot start this year, but he has struggled lately. Gonzalez posted a 2.10 ERA in his first 11 starts, but is 1-9, 6.53 in his last 16 starts. Gonzalez’s fastball now sits 90-93 mph compared to the 93-96 mph of his youth, and his curveball has become a much less effective pitch this year. His main issue recently has been control, with a 4.65 BB/9 rate in those last 16 starts. The Brewers needed an extra arm with Jimmy Nelson looking less and less likely to return this season and Brent Suter going down with Tommy John surgery. They are hoping a new situation can help Gonzalez rediscover his early season form, and that he can ultimately push them back to the postseason before he becomes a free agent at the end of the year.

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NATIONALS ACQUIRE:

K.J. Harrison, C/1B
Age: 22

The Brewers drafted Harrison in the third round out of Oregon State last year and he ranked as their No. 16 prospect entering the season, but he largely disappointed in his first full year. Harrison was considered questionable to stay behind the plate to begin with and has spent more time at first base (54 games) and designated hitter (37 games) than catcher (26). He threw out just 4 of 39 baserunners due to a slow release and his footwork and mechanics need a lot of work. At the plate, he hit just .228/.298/.384 with 147 strikeouts in 115 games at low Class A Wisconsin. Harrison long demonstrated easy pull-side power, an intelligent approach and good bat-to-ball skills, so his offensive struggles were surprising. He’ll have to rediscover that previous offensive form in his new organization, especially because it appears his catching days are largely done.

Gilbert Lara, SS
Age: 20

The Brewers gave Lara a $3.1 million signing bonus as a 16-year-old in 2014, more than triple the highest international signing bonus the franchise ever previously given out. Offense and big power were supposed to be Lara’s calling card, but he’s never hit better than .250 or more than five home runs in a season. A lack of balance and plate discipline have hampered Lara, and he has to turn any of his supposed improvements into production. He has improved defensively, showing good range and arm strength from shortstop. Lara is still only 20 years old, so the Nationals will bank on him being a late-bloomer.

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