The Winter Meetings are typically the busiest part of any MLB offseason, with players switching teams and deals being negotiated left and right.
The Brewers have seen their fair share of big successes- such as the Travis Shaw trade prior to the 2017 season- as well as some that just simply didn’t pan out the way they had hoped, as we’ll explore here. With the 2020 Winter Meetings underway currently, here’s a look back at some of the biggest mistakes Milwaukee has made over the years at these annual meetings.
1. Brewers select Wei-Chung Wang in the Rule 5 draft
On December 12, 2013, former Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin took a chance on Wei-Chung Wang, a young pitcher from Taiwan in the Rule 5 draft.
Wang was originally a Pirates prospect and had never pitched above Rookie ball before coming to Milwaukee, and it simply didn’t work out once he debuted for the Brewers in 2014.
That season, in 14 appearances, Wang sported a 10.90 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, and gave up six home runs. Just 22 years old at the time, there was hope he could improve and become a serviceable player, but it never happened. He pitched sparingly, effectively keeping the Brewers bullpen a man down most of the season before he was put on the DL with a shoulder injury.
He last played in 2019 with Pittsburgh, and is currently a free agent.
2. Brewers trade competitive balance Round A draft pick for Alex Claudio
On December 13, 2018, Milwaukee traded a competitive balance Round A draft pick to the Texas Rangers in exchange for lefty specialist Alex Claudio.
While Claudio wasn’t a total liability for the Brewers in his two years with the club, he was no superstar either. In 2019 he had an ERA of 4.06, and walked 24 batters. He was almost always used situationally in Milwaukee, to face lefties. Rarely was he ever asked to complete more than one or two outs. Consequently, the 3-batter-minimum rule change that took effect in 2020 diminished his value as a specialist.
This trade wouldn’t have been as much of a bust had it not been for the draft pick the Brewers gave up. That pick ended up being the 41st overall selection. Given the fact that the Brewers farm system is looking rather thin as of late, I bet the organization wouldn’t mind having a do-over on this one in order to keep that pick.
3. Brewers trade for Marquis Grissom
Now, let’s go back in time a little while.
The year is 1997. The Brewers, mired in a lengthy playoff drought, decide to trade for then-two-time All-star, 1995 World Series champ, and 1997 ALCS MVP, Marquis Grissom. The Brewers also received pitcher Jeff Juden in the deal, and sent back three pitchers (Mike Fetters, Ben McDonald and Ron Villone) to the Cleveland Indians.
Grissom did not perform to the level the Brewers had hoped, sporting just a .685 OPS, a steep drop-off from the .838 mark he put up just two seasons before. He also lost his power stroke in ‘98, hitting just 10 home runs in 142 games. Eventually, the Brewers traded Grissom to the Dodgers in February 2001, and he went on to have a career resurgence in 2003 and 2004 with the San Francisco Giants.
You can’t win them all, right?
Here’s hoping that the Brewers can pull off some beneficial trades in the 2020 Winter Meetings and in the future, like they have proven they’re capable of doing.