Best Trade #3: Brewers trade 1B/OF Matt LaPorta, RHP Rob Bryson, LHP Zach Jackson, and PTBNL to the Cleveland Indians for LHP CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia spent just three months in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. He is still to be considered one of the best pitchers in team history. And to think, the Brewers acquired the massive lefty in a trade with the then-Cleveland Indians in exchange for a few prospects and a Player To Be Named Later.
What the Brewers got:
The Brewers won this deal pretty much immediately. CC Sabathia, the big, burly left-hander who had already established an incredible reputation, came over to the Brewers and did nothing but produce. In his 17 starts with the Crew, CC made 17 starts, seven of them complete games. He posted a miniscule 1.65 ERA along with an 11-2 record and 128 strikeouts against just 25 walks.
Despite his Brewers career being just three months long, Sabathia managed to post 4.9 bWAR and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in the NL MVP vote. His .229 batting average, home run and six RBIs also helped his case when it came to winning over the entire state of Wisconsin’s hearts.
What the Brewers gave away:
Matt LaPorta, the Brewers No. 1 prospect in 2008 per Baseball Prospectus, was the headliner in the trade from Cleveland’s standpoint. LaPorta, a power-hitting outfielder and first baseman, was supposed to translate his minor league successes into stardom at the big league level.
Instead, he played in parts of four seasons for Cleveland, hitting 31 home runs and posting a .238 batting average, good for -1.0 bWAR and horrendous defense at first base and the outfield corners. His last major league action came just four years after the trade, and he was officially retired by 2015.
Right-handed pitcher Zach Jackson was another highly touted piece going from Milwaukee to Cleveland in the deal. Jackson, unlike LaPorta, had already debuted with the Brewers, making a total of 10 appearances for the club between 2006 and 2008.
Jackson was never hugely successful in the minor leagues prior to the trade aside from a standout performance in 2005 with the Blue Jays High-A affiliate. His Cleveland career consists of 12 appearances and a 6.11 ERA. He, like Matt LaPorta, was completely out of baseball shortly after the trade and was retired by 2015.
Youngster Rob Bryson, a right-handed swingman, hadn’t made it any farther than the Brewers A-level affiliate at 20-years-old before he was flipped to Cleveland. He had a high ceiling and a high-90’s fastball that was projected to carry him to the back end of big league bullpens, but never made it to the majors with Cleveland, or any other team for that matter. His last professional appearances came back in 2016 with two Indy League teams.
The “Player To Be Named Later” in your typical major league trade usually results in a minor league filler type player who doesn’t amount to much at the big league level. In this specific trade, the PTBNL ended up being Michael Brantley, who still to this day is a hugely successful MLB outfielder.
The now-34-year-old Brantley is a five-time All-Star Game selection and 2014 Silver Slugger recipient and has a career 32.9 bWAR throughout his 13-year MLB career to this point.
You can never guarantee how a trade will work out for either of the teams that take part in it. But with these three trades, saying they worked out as well as anyone could have imagined would be a massive understatement.