It's crazy how one decision leads to so many others, not only in baseball, but in life. In baseball, singular decisions can have ripple effects well into the future for several players and organizations. It all starts with one singular move.
In this case for the Brewers, the lynchpin, the guy who started it all is J.J. Hardy.
The Brewers drafted J.J. Hardy in the 2nd round (56th overall) out of high school in the 2001 MLB Draft. From there he would quickly become one of the Brewers better prospects and he made his MLB debut in 2005. He took over the starting shortstop job and earned an All Star nod in 2007.
After a down season in 2009, the Brewers traded Hardy to the Minnesota Twins in a one-for-one swap for centerfielder Carlos Gomez on November 6, 2009. Thus the J.J. Hardy trade tree began.
The J.J. Hardy trade tree is still continuing to grow after the Brewers most recent trade for catcher William Contreras.
Carlos Gomez had several good years in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform, including scoring the winning run in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, the first Brewers postseason series win since 1982.
In 2015, the rebuilding Brewers traded Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros in exchange for four players: Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Adrian Houser, and Josh Hader.
There are currently three branches of this trade tree off that move alone now. Phillips was traded along with Jorge Lopez for Mike Moustakas. Moustakas was allowed to walk in free agency after the 2019 season, thus ending that branch. Domingo Santana was traded for Ben Gamel and Noah Zavolas, both of whom were allowed to reach free agency thus ending that branch.
Then came the Josh Hader trade. It was a day everyone knew was coming eventually but the timing caught everyone by surprise. Still, the return for Josh Hader was Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet, Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz.
Now, just four months later, we have a new branch on the JJ Hardy trade tree.
The Brewers traded Esteury Ruiz to Oakland on Monday to acquire three players: William Contreras, Joel Payamps, and Justin Yeager.
Contreras is a massive addition for the Brewers and they get some relief arms along with for just one of the players acquired for Hader. Of course now the only player remaining in the organization from the Hader trade is Robert Gasser. The only player remaining from the Gomez trade is Adrian Houser, who also could be a trade candidate this offseason.
The Brewers got five good seasons out JJ Hardy with one All-Star appearance, which they turned into five and a half good seasons of Carlos Gomez with two All-Star appearances, two years with MVP votes, and a Gold Glove, which they turned into five and a half great seasons of Josh Hader with four All-Star appearances and a Top-10 Cy Young finish, parts of six solid seasons from Adrian Houser, three good seasons from Domingo Santana, including a 30 home run campaign, and a solid debut season from Brett Phillips.
The Brewers then turned Phillips into a good season and a half of Mike Moustakas with one All-Star appearance and several big moments in the 2018 postseason, and then turned Josh Hader into two relievers as well as two prospects, and they then turned one prospect into an All Star catcher and two relievers.
That's a total of eight Brewers All-Star appearances, two top-16 MVP finishes, one Top-10 Cy Young finish, one Gold Glove, two postseason series wins, a whole lot of fun memories along the way, and now an All-Star catcher under contract for the next five seasons.
It all started when the Brewers drafted an 18 year old shortstop out of Sabino High School in Tucson, Arizona named James Jerry Hardy in June 2001, over two decades ago.