December 12th, 2022: The Brewers receive catcher of the future William Contreras plus two pitchers in a three-team mega trade
Of the positions the Brewers needed to upgrade for the 2023 season, catcher was a big one. Three-year starter Omar Narvaez was a free agent, leaving the team with the light-hitting (in 2022, anyway) Victor Caratini and some other options with limited MLB experience.
Outside of a few options that were either pushing our outside of Milwaukee's price range, however, the free agent catching market was light. And finding a worthy replacement via trade could mean sending out a good amount of players or prospects. Matt Arnold had his work cut out for him.
And then word of a blockbuster started leaking. It began with news of Oakland A's catcher Sean Murphy heading to the Atlanta Braves. Then, Brewers fans found out that their team was getting in on the action and making it a three-team trade....and that catcher William Contreras was coming to Milwaukee.
This was a huge get for the Crew. Contreras was coming off an All-Star season, had better offensive numbers than nearly ever Brewers player in 2022, and had a whopping five years of control remaining. The team not only had their catcher for 2023, but for a long time after that.
More details of the trade would end up coming out and we would learn that two pitchers were also coming to the Brewers: journeyman reliever Joel Payamps and a pitching prospect in Justin Yeager. Finally, a Milwaukee contribution to the trade was also revealed: outfield prospect Esteury Ruiz.
Ruiz was a top 10 prospect, but the Brewers had several other highly regarded top outfield prospects, so the loss didn't sting. Fans would then wait to see who else Milwaukee was giving up in the trade. Because that couldn't be all they would have to give up in this mega-deal, could it?
As it turns out, it very much could. The Brewers were able to get their catcher of the future, a bullpen piece for 2023, and a lottery ticket pitching prospect for their fifth best outfield prospect. Arnold had pulled off the first heist of his tenure.
And with that, we end 2022 on a high note. Who knows what stories 2023 might bring? At the very least, we can all hope that one of them will be the Brewers starting another run of playoff appearances, hopefully one that will last even longer than the last one.