For two years, every trade the Milwaukee Brewers made was designed to rebuild the roster by stockpiling young, controllable talent.
That began to change when the Brewers were in contention at the 2017 trade deadline and did an about-face earlier this winter when general manager David Stearns traded for outfielder Christian Yelich and signed free-agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Stearns has received well-deserved praise for turning around the Brewers so quickly, but now that the rebuilding process is complete, we can start to judge his work as a deal-maker.
Of course, two of the best trades were made before Stearns took over in October of 2015. At the trade deadline that summer, then-general manager Doug Melvin sent outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers to Houston for outfielders Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips and pitchers Josh Hader and Adrian Houser. The next day, Melvin dealt outfielder Gerardo Parra to Baltimore for pitcher Zach Davies.
Davies, Hader and Santana were major factors in last season's surprising turnaround and Phillips and Houser are ranked as the team's No. 6 and No. 13 prospects, respectively, by
Stearns has made many other moves, but here is a breakdown of his major trades involving veterans for prospects.
Contact Tom Oates at
November 2015 − P Francisco Rodriguez to Detroit for 2B Javier Betancourt and C Manny Piña
Francisco Rodriguez was nearing the end of the line, so nothing was lost. Javier Betancourt remains mired in Class AA, but Manny Piña (above left), the player to be named in the deal, took over as the Brewers' primary catcher in 2017, showing a solid bat and terrific defensive skills.
MORRY GASH, ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 2016 − SS Jean Segura and P Tyler Wagner to Arizona for P Chase Anderson, IF Aaron Hill and SS Isan Diaz
Jean Segura was a .300 hitter the last two seasons, but Chase Anderson (above) became a cornerstone of the Brewers rotation, going 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA in his second season. The veteran Aaron Hill was flipped to Boston at the 2016 trade deadline for P Aaron Wilkerson and IF Wendell Rijo. After a strong season at Class AA Biloxi and a late-season call-up, Wilkerson is contending for a spot in the Brewers rotation. Isan Diaz, a highly regarded middle infielder, was included in the trade for Christian Yelich.
GENE J. PUSKAR, ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 2016 − C Jonathan Lucroy and P Jeremy Jeffress to Texas for OF Lewis Brinson, P Luis Ortiz and OF Ryan Cordell
After falling short of expectations in Texas,
Jonathan Lucroy (above) is a free agent and Jeremy Jeffress is back in the Brewers bullpen, the only place he seems comfortable. Lewis Brinson was Milwaukee's No. 1 prospect but was the key piece in the Christian Yelich trade. Luis Ortiz is one of the franchise's top young arms after a strong season at Biloxi and is its No. 5 prospect. Ryan Cordell was dealt at the 2017 trade deadline for veteran Anthony Swarzak, who was a valuable addition to the bullpen during the Brewers' unexpected playoff bid.
ALEX GALLARDO, ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 2016 − P Tyler Thornburg to Boston for 3B Travis Shaw, SS Mauricio Dubon, P Josh Pennington and IF Yeison Coca
Tyler Thornburg was the Brewers' closer, but David Stearns dealt him at the right time. Thoracic outlet syndrome prevented Thornburg from pitching in 2017 while Travis Shaw (above center) had a career year at third base for the Brewers, hitting .273 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. Plus, Corey Knebel took over the closer role and became one of baseball's best. Mauricio Dubon, a middle infielder, is ranked No. 11 in the Brewers farm system and Josh Pennington had a good season at Class A Wisconsin, so the deal could get even better.
JEFFREY PHELPS, ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 2015 − P Cy Sneed to Houston for IF Jonathan Villar
What once appeared to be a solid victory is now anybody's guess.
Jonathan Villar (above) gave the Brewers one great season followed by one clunker. If he can return to the form he showed as the team's leadoff hitter in 2016, he could be the answer at second base. Cy Sneed remains buried in the minors.
DAVID ZALUBOWSKI, ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 2015 − 1B Adam Lind to Seattle for P Freddy Peralta, P Carlos Herrera and P Daniel Missaki
Adam Lind is still a solid hitter, but he's 34 and on his third team since leaving Milwaukee. The three pitchers the Brewers got in return are extremely young and have yet to justify the trade, though Freddy Peralta (above) is rated the Brewers' No. 10 prospect after finishing last season in Biloxi. Daniel Missaki missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery.
CARLOS OSORIO, ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 2015 − 1B Jason Rogers to Pittsburgh for OF Keon Broxton and P Trey Supak
Keon Broxton (above) has been a two-year contributor for Milwaukee. Trey Supak is ranked as its No. 23 prospect after spending the 2017 season in Class A ball. Jason Rogers is out of baseball.
MORRY GASH, ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 2016 − OF Khris Davis to Oakland for C Jacob Nottingham and RHP Bubba Derby
The Brewers deemed the weak-armed
Khris Davis (above) expendable in a crowded outfield, but he blew up in Oakland, batting .322 with 85 home runs and 212 RBIs the last two seasons. Jacob Nottingham has done little to justify the trade in two seasons at Biloxi, though he has improved his defense and remains the team's No. 27 prospect. But unless Nottingham starts hitting, the trade will be a bust even if Bubba Derby, who had a quality season at Biloxi and Class AAA Colorado Springs, makes it to the big club.
LM OTERO, ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 2016 − P Will Smith to San Francisco for P Phil Bickford and C Andrew Susac
Will Smith (above) missed the entire 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery, so David Stearns dodged a bullet there. Phil Bickford has a big arm and was considered the prize of the deal, but he missed the 2017 season due to a 50-game drug suspension followed by a broken hand. He's still only 22, but he hasn't pitched above the Class A level. Andrew Susac was beaten out in Milwaukee and later traded to Baltimore.
DERIK HAMILTON, ASSOCIATED PRESS