As the MLB lockout continues and trades aren’t able to be made, let’s take look back at a trade between the Brewers and Royals that occurred 11 years ago today, December 19th, 2010.
Of course I am referencing to the trade that sent RHP Zack Greinke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt to the Brewers. In exchange, the Royals received OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, and RHP Jake Odorizzi.
The Zack Greinke trade ended up being very impactful for both the Brewers and the Royals.
For the Brewers, it was a win now move from GM Doug Melvin in what turned out to be an incredible 2011 season. The Crew ended up setting a franchise record in wins (96) and won the division. In the playoffs, a walk-off hit propelled them out of the divisional round and into the NLCS. They eventually fell two games short of a World Series appearance.
Greinke made 28 starts for the Brewers in 2011 and struck out over 200 batters. He pitched alongside Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum, who made a great trio atop the starting rotation. Betancourt was a fun player to watch, but ultimately was not all that reliable defensively.
As for the Royals, Cain and Escobar ended up being core players during their stretch of back to back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015. Jeffress ended up making 27 appearances as a Royal before being traded to the Blue Jays in 2012. Odorizzi was also traded in 2012 and was a key piece in the James Shields deal that sent him and Wade Davis to the Royals from the Rays.
Years later, both Jeffress and Cain would return to the Brewers and play pivotal roles during their 2018 playoff run.
For Jeffress, he actually had multiple stints back with the Crew. He initially signed a minor league deal in 2014 and was traded with Jonathan Lucroy in 2016 to the Rangers in exchange for CF Lewis Brinson, RHP Luis Ortiz and Player To Be Named Later. A year later, he was traded back to the Brewers where he remained with the team until the conclusion of the 2019 season. In 2018, he recorded 15 saves and pitched to a 1.29 ERA.
Cain signed with the Brewers as a free agent prior to the start of the 2018 season. In surprising fashion, David Stearns also acquired Christian Yelich via trade on that same day. Both Cain and Yelich performed exceptionally well that first year with Cain serving as the table setter for the MVP Yelich in the lineup.
Unfortunately, that 2018 team ended up finishing one game short of a World Series appearance as they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the NLCS. However, the Brewers have made the playoffs every year since then and were division champs again in 2021. As we enter 2022, Cain is in the final year of his contract that he signed back in 2018.
It is really cool to see how the trade in 2011 with the Royals impacted both teams and how prospects given up at that time ended up returning and being big contributors for the Brewers years later.
As the MLB lockout continues, we will continue to take a look back at these historical transactions. Earlier this month we surpassed the 41st anniversary of a historic trade with the Cardinals in which the Brewers acquired Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons, and Pete Vuckovich.