The 2015 rebuild
In June, the team selected Hernan Perez off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
On July 30th, they traded Pitcher Mike Fiers and outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Houston Astros for prospects Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser, Domingo Santana and Josh Hader. Houston’s assistant General Manager David Stearns played a large part of making the deal happen.
Then, on August 11th, General Manager Doug Melvin announced his retirement and it didn’t take long for Stearns to rise to the top of the candidate pool and was named GM on Sept. 21, 2015.
His first official pick up for his vision of the Brewers, 30-year-old starting pitcher Junior Guerra off waivers from the White Sox.
A month later, Stearns began to clean up the roster, trading veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers for Javier Betancourt and a player to be named later. That player to be named was Brewers catcher Manny Pina.
In December 2015, he sent Lind to Seattle for three prospects, Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki and starting pitcher Freddy Peralta. Two weeks later, he sent Jason Rogers, a career .258 hitter who hasn’t played in the majors since 2016, to Pittsburgh for prospects Trey Supak and outfielder Keon Broxton.
January 30th, 2016, he sent starting shortstop Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Isan Diaz, starting pitcher Chase Anderson and infielder Aaron Hill. Before Spring Training kicked off, he sent outfielder Khris Davis to Oakland for pitcher Bubba Derby and catcher Jacob Nottingham.
The 2016 Brewers, led by now-Manager Craig Counsell, still finished 16 games under .500, but the rebuild was in full swing. In June, they drafted Corbin Burnes in the 4th round of the amateur draft. On July 7, 2016 they traded Hill to the Boston Red Sox for Wendell Rijo and Aaron Wilkerson. In August, Jeffress was packaged with Jonathan Lucroy in a trade with the Rangers for three prospects, including outfielder Lewis Brinson.
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The 2016 off-season was just as busy leading into the 2017 season. Stearns signed power hitter Eric Thames from the Korean Professional Baseball League at the end of November, traded Thornburg to the Red Sox for middle infielder Mauricio Dubon, third baseman Travis Shaw, and two other prospects in December. In February 2017, he snagged first baseman Jesus Aguilar off waivers from the Cleveland Indians.
The 2017 surprise
No one expected the Brewers to win 86 games in 2017, and no one expected them to be in the hunt for the wild card spot up until the last week of the season. No one, except themselves.
As the team was leading the NL Central at the All-Star break, they looked for bullpen help and made a deal with the Rangers to bring back Jeffress for his third stint with the Brewers. After the season, he was rewarded with a multi-year deal which could keep him with the team through the 2020 season.
After the disappointment of missing the postseason, Stearns didn’t officially say the rebuild was over, but signed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, brought Cain back to the team that drafted him in 2004, and made the blockbuster trade of the winter.
On January 25th, 2018, the Brewers flipped top prospect Brinson, infielder Diaz and two others for All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich.
Fans know the rest of the story. 96 wins, NL Central Champions, one game away from the World Series and hope that Milwaukee Brewers baseball will be competitive for years to come with a young team that has talent waiting in the wings.
Building a playoff team takes time, it’s not easy and not all trades work out in the end. With every rumor comes what ifs and who should we trade, and not every prospect will pan out but keep the faith. These have been the best two years of baseball in Milwaukee since the 1982-1983 seasons, ( 1982-83 seasons – 182-142, 2017-18 seasons – 182-143) with more to come.
Patience is a virtue not all fans possess, but it’s one that the front office does, and that is something that we need to be grateful for.