1. Travis Shaw
Acquired with Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington, and Yeicon Coca via trade with Red Sox for Tyler Thornburg (December 2016)
This deal has become very lopsided for David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only was Travis Shaw the Brewers offensive team MVP in 2017, he stabilized a position of weakness in the organization. The Red Sox seemingly grew impatient with Shaw, and the Brewers pounced.
The trade garners the top spot for many reasons. There is the obvious; as Shaw broke out for 31 home runs and 101 RBI’s, while slugging .513 last season. His average is down this year and he is not hitting lefties nearly as well, but he is still a force in the middle of the Brewers lineup.
The Red Sox acquired Tyler Thornburg to be a major piece in their bullpen after coming off a superlative 2016 season with the Brewers. Thornburg had 2.15 ERA over 67 outings, including striking out 90 hitters in just 67 innings.
The problem is that he just started pitching for the Red Sox for the first time since he was traded a season and a half ago. The injury bug hit Thornburg hard and he has not pitched well in limited innings recently. He has given up 5 runs in just over 4 innings of work as he tries to find himself again.
Obviously David Stearns did not know this injury would occur, but it has to factor into the trade. The Brewers have received nearly 50 home runs from Shaw while Thornburg was battling injuries.
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Now, the bad luck surfaced for the Brewers too, as Mauricio Dubon was the other key piece to the trade. He was likely set for a call-up to the major leagues before he tore his ACL. Dubon had a 23-game hitting streak going and was highly thought of as a crucial part of the Brewers middle infield going forward. The Brewers hope he rebounds in 2019.
David Stearns GM Record
The Milwaukee Brewers young GM has not used the word “rebuild” when he discussed his plans going forward for the team. You would have to imagine behind closed doors that the front office was extremely pleased they did not have to bottom out before they returned to relevance.
The Brewers finished 82-80 in 2014 before the wheels fell off during the 2015 season, costing Doug Melvin his job. They won 68 games that season while Melvin starting trading away assets, as discussed earlier. There was a slight improvement to 73 games in 2016 before they took the big jump to 86 wins last year. The Brewers are now in contention for a playoff spot.
After the Brewers lost seven of eight games prior to the All-Star break and the series to the Dodgers afterwards, all eyes are on David Stearns to see if he can make moves comparable to these 10 to help finish the job. The team has some holes in their lineup, injury concerns, and a need for pitching. Stearns did not make a big splash last July with the team announcing themselves on the scene a bit earlier than expected.
2018 is different. The acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich signaled that loud and clear back in January. This trade deadline will be very interesting. Will the MIlwaukee Brewers make a huge move by adding an ace like they did with CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke? Or will they augment their bench or bullpen?
It is pretty clear at this point the team could use an acquisition or two to help make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. If you go by the track record of David Stearns outlined here, Brewers fans have to feel good who will be pulling the trigger.