Former Brewers Reliever Involved In Massive Trade With AL Central Rival

Justin Topa is coming back to the Midwest in a big trade
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The mostly cold "Hot Stove" finally saw some action on Monday night as the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners combined on a big trade. Included in that trade is a former Brewers reliever.

The Crew's interleague rival in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins, just traded second baseman Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four players and cash. Those four players are Anthony DeSclafani, Gabriel Gonzalez, Darren Bowen, and Justin Topa.

It's a huge haul for the Twins as they reload their roster and the Brewers will now face their former right-hander every season.

Justin Topa makes his return to the Midwest

The Brewers signed Justin Topa from the independent ball Rockland Boulders ahead of the 2019 season. He made his MLB debut with the Crew in 2020 and pitched in parts of three seasons with the Brewers.

Topa had a great debut with Milwaukee in that 2020 season, pitching in six games with a 2.35 ERA with 12 strikeouts and no walks. "Topa Time" as it was called, wasn't able to gain much traction after that as injuries prevented Topa from playing much in 2021 and then he was not a major part of the bullpen picture in 2022 either.

In total, Topa pitched in 17 games for the Brewers, combining for an 8.35 ERA as he was roughed up in his few 2021 appearances.

Prior to the 2023 season, the Brewers traded Topa to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Joseph Hernandez. Hernandez spent last season in High-A Wisconsin and had a 4.14 ERA in 54.1 IP.

In Topa's lone season with the Mariners, he looked great, pitching to a 2.61 ERA in 75 appearances covering 69 IP. He blossomed into a trusted bullpen arm, like he showed flashes of in Milwaukee, and the Mariners turned that into him being a key piece going back to Minnesota in a trade for Jorge Polanco.

This trade included a mix of major and minor league talent, similar to the structure of the Josh Hader trade, with two solid major league arms going in DeSclafani and Topa plus two prospects with Gonzalez and Bowen. Polanco has essentially two seasons of club control left. He's under contract for 2024 and has a club option for $12MM in 2025 that should easily be exercised if he plays like he has to this point in his career.

This trade ignited the Hot Stove and a former Brewers reliever was a key part of it. Now, we await the rest of the market continuing to move following this trade.