The Milwaukee Brewers surprised many by dealing away ace starting pitcher Corbin Burnes this past Thursday. The Milwaukee front office has denied talk of a rebuild, but other teams around the league have to be considering other Brewers’ stars as potential trade targets now. All-Star closer Devin Williams should be in the sights of at least a handful of teams.
Williams is unquestionably one of the best relievers in all of baseball. In his first full season as the Brewers’ closer last year, he converted 36 of 40 save chances, working to a sensational 1.53 ERA and 0.92 WHIP across 58.2 innings. The 29-year-old righty has twice won the NL Reliever of the Year Award (2020, 2023) and sports a career 39.0-percent K-rate while limiting opponents to a .158 batting average over 219 big-league relief appearances.
In short, Williams is a stud!
MLB Rumors: 3 teams that should take advantage of Brewers in Devin Williams trade
3. Yankees are in need of depth and Devin Williams could be an ace
The Yankees have watched relievers Wandy Peralta and Kenyan Middleton leave them behind in favor of new clubs over the past week. This comes a couple of months after the team sent multiple arms, including reliever-turned-starter Michael King, to the Padres in the Juan Soto trade. The Pinstripers might not be desperate yet, but their bullpen, as currently constructed, is suspect.
A move to land Williams would assuage the situation almost entirely. Clay Holmes has been mostly solid in the closer role for the Yankees over the last two seasons, but he’s nowhere near Williams’ level. The addition of Williams would theoretically allow Holmes to slide back to a setup role, where he’s honestly better suited, and the rest of the New York pen to work in less stressful scenarios.
2. Padres lack a proven closer and Devin Williams could fill the void
The Padres have made several additions to their relief corps. As mentioned already, some of that has been at the Yankees’ expense. Two other pickups -- Woo Suk Go and Yuki Matsui -- have come from overseas. Both have extensive closing experience in their native Asian countries and could be the top two options to replace free-agent departure Josh Hader if no more moves are made.
Williams seems to be an ideal option for the Padres to solidify the backend of their bullpen. It would also be the second time in less than two years that the Pads turned to the Brewers for a closer. Hader originally ended up in San Diego via a deadline deal back in 2022, freeing up the role for Williams in Milwaukee. The Padres should have enough down on the farm to entice the Brewers’ brass .
1. Phillies could upgrade from unproven rookie to Devin Williams
Orion Kerkering was sensational across multiple levels of the minors last year, catapulting himself to Philadelphia by the final week of September and claiming a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen for the playoffs. Kerkering has logged just 8.1 innings against MLB competition between the regular season and the playoffs, but he is already, at minimum, a prime contender to win the closing gig for the Phillies this spring after veteran Craig Kimbrel signed with Baltimore back in December.
The Phillies have some other options that could also win the job outright. The club would likely be comfortable with Jose Alvarado or perhaps even Gregory Soto. However, both are lefties and the ability to use them situationally maximizes their value to the team. The chance to turn to a force like Williams to close out games has to be tantalizing to the Phillies.