Milwaukee Brewers General Manager David Stearns has remarkably transformed the major league roster since arriving in 2015 and stocked the minor league cupboard.
The Brewers are now in competition for a playoff spot for the second consecutive year. In just under three years Stearns has made many moves, but which have been his best?
The non-waiver Major League Baseball Trade Deadline is July 31st. David Stearns and the Brewers have been rumored in many deals, including just missing out on All-Star shortstop Manny Machado. He went from the Orioles to the Dodgers and promptly helped his new team take two out of three from the the Crew to start the 2nd half.
The thought is that this might be a great time to reflect on some of the best moves in the short tenure of the Brewers GM, as he readies to possibly make some of his biggest decisions. Will Stearns trade some of their best prospects for the future to contend now? It will be fascinating to watch.
The Start of the Rebuild
The Milwaukee Brewers started the construction of the current team shortly before hiring David Stearns. Former General Manager Doug Melvin had a good run in Milwaukee and he should get recognition for the three major moves he made prior to exiting.
He acquired Zach Davies from Baltimore for Gerardo Parra. Davies has regressed a bit in 2018 before going on the disabled list, but he did win 28 games over the previous 2 seasons with sub 4.00 ERA’s. The Brewers hope he can stabilize the back of the rotation for their playoff push this season.
Melvin also made two trades that helped speed up the timetable of returning to competitive baseball. He traded Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros at the trade deadline for many names familiar to Brewers fans. The haul included Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser, and Josh Hader. Obviously the jewel to the trade has been the All-Star Hader, but Santana also hit 30 home runs in 2017. The fun part of this deal is that Stearns was part of the Astros brain-trust that made this deal!
The other major move Melvin made was with his former team, the Texas Rangers. He gave up Yovani Gallardo (who incidentally tried to make a comeback in spring this season for the Brewers) for Corey Knebel, Marcos Diplan, and Luis Sardinas. Knebel has been injured and a bit erratic in 2018, but was one of the best closers in baseball in 2017. Diplan is still a solid pitching prospect for the Brewers. He regressed a bit in 2017, but has moved up to AA with some impressive performances this season. Doug Melvin deserves kudos for some solid maneuvering to get the rebuild started.
David Stearns has had a few missteps
For my day job, I was constantly Googling how certain players in the Brewers system were acquired. It can get confusing at the start of a rebuild. So, I took it upon myself to create a database of the moves David Stearns made. I also included subjective grades and comments for each one. Incidentally, the research for this article was made much easier!
While putting together the database with grades, I quickly realized Stearns has not made too many blunders. There have been low risk moves that did not work out and some that were good for both teams. However, there are two very noticeable moves that Stearns would likely want a mulligan for. The first was trading Khris Davis for Jacob Nottingham and Bubba Derby.
Nottingham made his debut for the Brewers this year and could still prove to be their catcher of the future. However, Davis has hit 106 home runs in two and half seasons in Oakland and shows no signs of slowing down. Most fans knew that Davis likely needed to be an American League player, since he could only play left field with a below-average arm. He has been a full-time designated hitter in 2018 after the A’s had him play a decent amount of outfield prior. It was not necessarily a mistake to trade Davis, but Stearns needed to get more in return.
The other move that did not work was putting Scooter Gennett on waivers to save from paying his salary. The Reds claimed him and Gennett has been an entirely different player than he was in Milwaukee. The newly minted All-Star had a breakthrough season last year with 27 home runs and 97 RBI’s. He is on pace to better those numbers in 2018. His bat would look great in the Brewers lineup. That being said, Keston Hiura is likely the future now, but Stearns losing him for nothing was not his best move.
Understanding the Top 10
As previously mentioned, I came to this subjective rankings based on my database that I compiled. There likely will be much debate on the order and some that were left off. The list I compiled is determined by many factors, including their impact in the big leagues so far, prospect ranking, and what was given up to attain the player(s).
For example, the trade that brought in Chase Anderson also resulted in losing Jean Segura. I contend the trade was good for both teams, especially since Segura needed a change of scenery. That being said, the 10 acquisitions I placed ahead of that one all had better final grades attached for overall value.
There are not any draft picks included, since they take longer to grade. In a couple of years, this list could look much different with adding top picks and the results of all of the players involved. The list can change so much, that at the end of the season, it would likely be markedly different. Please use the comments section or tweet us to start a conversation on what you think your Top 10 would look like. With that said, here we go.