The Oakland A's and Atlanta Braves were originally reported to be making a deal that would send Sean Murphy to Atlanta and that there was a third team involved. The third team turned out to be the Milwaukee Brewers and speaking from experience, we as Brewers fans waited anxiously to see who was coming to Milwaukee and who the Brewers were sending out, fingers crossed tightly that it wasn't Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff or Willy Adames.
Then came the report that the Milwaukee Brewers were receiving last year's NL All-Star starting catcher William Contreras (yes the brother of the one that just signed with the Cardinals) and things got really tense for Brewers fans as we waited to see what the team had to give up to acquire such a player. Esteury Ruiz was the first name we heard and we waited to see what else the team was trading away. Yet another name never came plus two more were added to what the Brewers received in the deal.
The Milwaukee Brewers in total in the 3-team trade with the Oakland A's and Atlanta Braves received: William Contreras, Joel Payamps and Justin Yeager in exchange for sending Esteury Ruiz to Oakland.
Let's grade the trade for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Milwaukee Brewers return: William Contreras, Joel Payamps, Justin Yeager
First of all, getting an All-Star catcher, a catcher who is turning 25 on Christmas Eve, a catcher who is under team control until 2027 in William Contreras is enough on its own to get people excited. Catcher was one of, if not the biggest position of need for the Milwaukee Brewers to upgrade this off-season and Matt Arnold did say he would look to upgrade the position aggressively and wow did he stay true to his word.
William Contreras with his .278/.354/.506 triple slash line would have been the best on the Milwaukee Brewers last season for average and slugging and second in on base percentage, as pointed out by Elisha Twerski, not only that but several other categories as well.
Then moving to the pitchers the Brewers received in this deal, Joel Payamps (28) and Justin Yeager (24), the Brewers got a guy in Payamps who will likely help the Brewers bullpen this season. Payamps comes in with a 3.35 career ERA, which would have been one of the better marks in the Brewers bullpen in 2022. Yeager is a young athlete who can touch 100 MPH on the radar gun, while he is a bit farther away from contributing, the fact that the Brewers were able to grab a pitching prospect in addition to what they were already getting just adds another spoonful of sweetener to the deal.
The Milwaukee Brewers cost: Esteury Ruiz
While I will admit that not getting to see what Esteury Ruiz could bring to the table for the Milwaukee Brewers with his speed is a little bit of a bummer, the Brewers still have Garrett Mitchell who can absolutely fly. Also, I have to be honest that trading Ruiz gets me more excited because it means we as Brewers fans are one step closer to getting Sal Frelick in Milwaukee.
I think I speak for a lot of Brewers, Braves and A's fans and baseball fans across the board when I look at what the Brewers got and see that they're sending out only Esteury Ruiz and think "that's ALL they gave up?" Clearly Oakland is high on Ruiz and Atlanta was satisfied that their upgrade at catcher was big enough to not warrant any extra pieces leaving Milwaukee despite some unreliable rumors that Willy Adames was going to Atlanta.
At the end of the day, the Milwaukee Brewers massively upgraded at a position of need, traded from a position of great depth and added a bullpen arm and young prospect in the process. In my opinion, the Milwaukee Brewers fleeced the Atlanta Braves, a sentiment shared by others, and that STILL isn't all this trade does for the Brewers.
The ripple effect of the 3-team deal for the Milwaukee Brewers
Matt Arnold was able to make a massive upgrade at catcher by getting William Contreras and also added one arm to the bullpen which addresses another need for the Brewers after several departures. By doing so in a trade allows the Brewers to still remain aggressive in free agency at other positions and focus on retaining the big three of Burnes, Woodruff and Adames.
By not having to spend big on say Christian Vasquez who signed for an average annual value of $10 million with the Twins, the Brewers can still look to spend on retaining their stars and looking for a potential upgrade at third base.
Lastly, the final thought on this deal, we may need to begin the discussion of "was the Josh Hader trade actually worth it?" Personally I want to see what Robert Gasser brings to the table when he gets to Major League Baseball, but the fact that trading Hader for Ruiz (and others) and Ruiz for Contreras and two pitchers certainly begs the question. We'll have to wait and see them on the field and what getting a young, controllable catcher upgrade does for the spending to continue upgrading the team, but it seems a fair question regardless how fans feel about the 2022 season.
Grading Milwaukee Brewers haul in 3-team trade with A's and Braves: A+
This trade gets Matt Arnold nothing less than an A grade, I'd go as far as A+ and when considering the ripple effects of what this trade does for the Brewers maybe even A++. Matt Arnold undoubtedly put on some fleece pajamas, slept on fleece sheets, covered up with fleece blankets and slept great after making this trade.