Brewers: A Mild Sell, Crew Stays The Course At Trade Deadline

After an up and down first half of the season, Brewers GM David Stearns had some tough decisions to make at the Trade Deadline.

The Brewers on the field did not make things easy on the Brewers front office. They continue to do just enough to stay within striking distance of the postseason that it makes no sense to give up on the season, but also haven’t done enough to inspire the front office to make big additions.

That put David Stearns in a bit of a tough spot. He knows his offense is struggling and needs help, but he’s only had about 30 games with his current group, which isn’t enough to completely evaluate them and any additions he made would only have about 30 games to help the team, which also isn’t a lot.

So what was the result? For the most part, the Brewers stayed the course.

Brewers Staying The Course

The Brewers did end up making a trade, sending RHP David Phelps to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for three young pitching prospects. So technically, they were sellers, but the Brewers aren’t changing that much.

Phelps became an expendable setup man after the emergence of Devin Williams, Drew Rasmussen, and Eric Yardley.

In all reality, the Brewers aren’t any weaker out of the bullpen and they were able to add three young pitchers to the farm system. That sounds like a positive to me.

There were rumors that Josh Hader might possibly get traded, which would represent a much bigger turn of direction and a sell-off than what ended up happening. Talks for Hader never really got anywhere with interested teams.

So for the most part, the Brewers are staying the course. They didn’t make any impact additions to the lineup and they didn’t trade away any impact or irreplaceable players from their roster. Stearns is going to let it ride with the current group that he has and hopes they’ll be able to pick themselves up and make a push in September.

According to Stearns, up until just about the last minute, he believed he was going to land an impact bat in another trade, but things fell through and a deal wasn’t completed.

Stearns’ comments prove he was looking at upgrading the current roster and buying at the deadline as well as selling. In the end, though, he didn’t get anyone new for the 60 man roster.

The Brewers’ hopes for the playoffs are going to rest on the current members of their offense figuring things out at the plate and getting into a groove over the final month. It’s honestly not a horrible bet to make. Over their careers, most of these hitters have been successful and for whatever reason, the shortened season has caused most of them to struggle in the early going.

You’d have to think that over another 60 game stretch there’s no way all of these guys will continue to struggle like this. The inconsistency is the most annoying part. They have games where they can push across nine runs, string hits together, and really look like a competent offense. Then they’ll have days where they make even the most mediocre pitchers look like Sandy Koufax.

The Brewers underwent a lot of turnover during the offseason, and the team hasn’t had much of a chance to jell on the field or off due to Covid restrictions. It’s understandable why Stearns wouldn’t want to blow up that group or make the determination that they aren’t enough and sell from an already weak farm system to add to this roster.

Since Stearns only has a few solid minor league prospects to begin with, the idea of trading away more of them when he isn’t convinced that his current roster can’t get the job done and there’s only a limited amount of time for the big league acquisition to make an impact doesn’t sound very appealing.

It’s a frustrating situation for the Brewers to be in, and Stearns might have been in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. If he commits to selling multiple veteran assets, he would give up on his roster after 30 games and admit that his offseason was a failure. If he commits to buying up impact players and sending away prospects, he also would be giving up on some of his offseason additions and further depleting a system that he’s going to need to keep full of talent.

Also, committing to buying in a year with expanded playoffs and easier access to October may not be necessary. The rest of the NL Central has struggled to get their offenses going to this point as well, so the competition in this division isn’t as high as we previously thought.

If the NL Central was pretty close with several teams all above .500 and playing good baseball, then perhaps Stearns would’ve felt a stronger urgency to add to his roster. But recently, practically no one in the NL Central is playing super well. That decreases the urgency to spend big. If all three or four competing teams were playing well, Stearns would likely feel the need to add to ensure his roster can keep pace. Since that’s not the case, the necessity to add isn’t there.

There was a lot of activity across the board for MLB at the Trade Deadline, but the Brewers only made one deal. They were sellers, technically, but make no mistake: David Stearns is staying the course. He was opportunistic about getting some more arms in the farm system and dealing from a position of depth, but Stearns stayed the course and will ride it out with the team that he has.

Next: Grading The David Phelps Deal

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It might have been the best course he could’ve taken. Time will tell, but this seemed like the most logical result of this unusual Trade Deadline.

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