Milwaukee Brewers: David Stearns’ summer steals

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 30: Stephen Vogt
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 30: Stephen Vogt /
Stephen Vogt, Milwaukee Brewers
MILWAUKEE, WI – JUNE 30: Stephen Vogt /

Despite not landing a top-tier trade target, can a case be made that the Milwaukee Brewers had the best series of trades over the course of the summer?

When discussing the winners of the trade deadline, most pundits focused on the larger names dealt. Aces Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were the highest-profile players dealt before the deadline, but the results haven’t been perfect since they switched teams.

Darvish impressed in his first three starts for Los Angeles, producing a 2.50 ERA and a 22:4 K:BB. However, the Dodgers certainly didn’t bargain for more damaged goods. The Japanese right-hander spent the past week on the disabled list.

Gray, on the other hand, has stayed healthy. However, despite posting a solid 3.13 ERA with the Yankees, he owns a1-3 record in his four starts in pinstripes.

Things in the Cream City haven’t been fantastic, either. The Milwaukee Brewers are a few games behind the Cubs for the division lead. Most experts thought that the Brewers would fade as the summer rolled along. Brewers General Manager David Stearns clearly wasn’t listening to those comments.

Which Deals Helped The Brewers The Most?

With shrewd move after shrewd move, the former Astros staff member has kept the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoff race despite a low payroll and a commitment to the future. He managed to plug most of the holes in the roster with a series of under-the-radar pickups.

With Jett Bandy struggling at the plate and a young pitching staff showing signs of slowing down, Stearns nabbed Stephen Vogt off waivers from the Athletics. The pickup seemed fairly unremarkable at the time given his age and declining production at the plate in Oakland. Nonetheless, the 32-year-old backstop earned his keep by bouncing back at the plate. He’s bashed five home runs and owns an OPS north of 1.000 in 16 games for the Milwaukee Brewers.

When the bullpen began to falter close to the deadline, the young executive opted to avoid the top closers being dangled on the trading block. Stearns pursued Anthony Swarzak, who has turned into a nice addition at the back end of the bullpen.

In 10 innings pitched for Milwaukee, the 31-year-old holds a 2.70 ERA to go with five holds and a stellar 15:3 K:BB. How much did Swarzak cost the Brewers? A single Minor-Leaguer, Ryan Cordell.

To top things off, Stearns even managed to bolster the roster after the dust settled on July 31. Once Eric Sogard’s bat cooled down and Jonathan Villar failed to capitalize, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Neil Walker from the Mets. The 31-year-old has been a huge boost to the offensive productivity since joining the Brewers. He’s collected 12 hits in his first 28 at-bats with the team while driving in five runs and scoring thrice.

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None of these moves were blockbusters that fans will remember for years to come. Given the price paid and the success shown, Stearns had the most success on the trade market this summer.