One Year Later, The Willy Adames Trade Proving To Be One Of Stearns’ Best

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 17: Willy Adames #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on from dugout during the game against the Atlanta Braves at American Family Field on May 17, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Br (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 17: Willy Adames #27 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on from dugout during the game against the Atlanta Braves at American Family Field on May 17, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Br (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

It was one year ago today that the Milwaukee Brewers made a stunning trade with the Tampa Bay Rays with shortstop Willy Adames coming to Milwaukee as the headliner. A shocker at the time, this trade is quickly going down as one of the best in the David Stearns era.

At this time in 2021, the Milwaukee Brewers were 21-23 with a struggling offense and a struggling young shortstop. Luis Urias had been given the starting job six weeks prior after the trade of Orlando Arcia to Atlanta. Urias wasn’t producing much offensively and made nine errors in 39 games. He was routinely making bad throws on routine plays.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns acted quickly and decisively to remedy this issue.

On May 21, 2021, Stearns and Tampa Bay Rays PBO Erik Neander swung a trade that would have massive implications for both clubs.

One year later, the Willy Adames trade with Tampa Bay has been a huge positive for both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Rays.

The Brewers acquired incumbent Rays shortstop Willy Adames and reliever Trevor Richards in exchange for two of the Brewers young, promising bullpen arms in J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen.

This trade made a short term dent in the Milwaukee bullpen losing two arms and bringing back just one, but the acquisition of Adames boosted this team to its potential. Adames brought energy that the Brewers were lacking since the Arcia trade, he brought the clubhouse closer together, and brought offensive and defensive excellence to the shortstop position.

You could immediately tell Adames was having a positive impact on the club. They immediately started winning and after acquiring him at 21-23, the Brewers went 74-44 the rest of the way, never again being below .500 on the year.

Luis Urias began to improve after the trade as well. Without the pressure of the starting shortstop job and now with Adames acting as a big brother, Urias thrived on both sides of the ball. He’s seized the everyday third base job now with increased power ability and improved defense.

David Stearns traded for one position player and ended up upgrading two positions. Actually, you could even argue Stearns upgraded three positions.

Trevor Richards, the reliever who was acquired with Adames in the deal, was later traded along with Bowden Francis to the Blue Jays for Rowdy Tellez. Tellez has seized the first base job and gives the Brewers a potential long-term answer at a position that has been a revolving door for a decade. Stearns nearly remade the entire infield with just Feyereisen, Rasmussen, and Francis; three relievers.

In 134 games since coming to Milwaukee, Adames is hitting .265/.349/.505 with 32 doubles, 29 homers, 82 RBIs, an .854 OPS, and a 130 OPS+. He’s been everything the Brewers were looking for and then some.

For Urias, after the Adames trade was made, he hit .263/.354/.472 the rest of 2021 with 19 of his 23 homers and 19 of his 25 doubles. He had an .825 OPS in that stretch to finish last season. This season, he has an .824 OPS as of May 21st.

Let’s also take a look at how the players the Brewers traded away for Adames have done.

J.P Feyereisen has not allowed a run in his first 19 IP this season for the Rays. If you recall, Feyereisen had a similar scoreless streak to begin the 2021 season with Milwaukee. After the trade, Feyereisen posted a 2.45 ERA in a Rays uniform in 36.1 IP while earning three saves last year.

He’s filled a variety of roles for Tampa Bay, including opening a few games for them this season, and he’s filled all those roles well.

Drew Rasmussen was a former Rays first round pick but they didn’t sign him after he needed a second Tommy John surgery coming out of school. The Brewers drafted him a year later in the 6th round after having not seen him pitch in a game since the Rays drafted him. Milwaukee was looking at Rasmussen as a reliever. The Rays believe in Rasmussen as a starter, even with the two TJ surgeries.

Rasmussen has made eight starts in the rotation for Tampa Bay this year and he’s posted a 2.33 ERA in 38.2 IP with 34 Ks and just eight walks. Rasmussen made 20 appearances for the Rays last season, starting 10 of them, and putting up a 2.44 ERA in 59 IP.

The Rays really needed pitching help and had an abundance at shortstop with prospect Wander Franco waiting in the wings. The Brewers really needed help at shortstop and had an abundance of pitching. Everything lined up perfectly for both sides, and both sides won in this trade. There’s not a winner and a loser here. Both the Brewers and Rays got what they were looking for and are extremely happy.

The Brewers are celebrating what Willy Adames has done for Milwaukee since his arrival by having an Adames bobblehead day on May 22nd, the one year anniversary of his first game with the Brewers.

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David Stearns has made a lot of good trades in his time with the Brewers, but few have turned out as well for both sides like this one.