Milwaukee Brewers: What is David Stearns' Legacy?

David Stearns
David Stearns / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Josh Hader / John Fisher/GettyImages

David Stearns' Legacy with the Milwaukee Brewers: The bad 

For those who just remember recent events, David Stearns' written legacy with the Brewers might have a stain on the cover as if someone bit into an overfilled jelly doughnut over it just before turning in the final draft, that stain of course being the trade of Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres. Thankfully, the list of moves that didn't work out for David Stearns is actually pretty short for the six years he was in control of the team. But let's get the bad news out of the way first.

Obviously, the Josh Hader trade still has the ears of Milwaukee fans ringing everywhere, wondering if the prospects received will pan out to make this trade somewhat worthwhile. Designating the newly acquired Dinelson Lamet for assignment didn't help the case of the trade, which will definitely go down as one of Stearns' worst moves as the President of Baseball Operations. 

Also in 2022 was the acquisition of Trevor Rosenthal, a somewhat desperate attempt to aid the back end of the Brewers bullpen that was wildly inconsistent in the post-Hader trade months. Rosenthal was acquired for Tristan Peters, a prospect who had made some noise in AA, and Rosenthal never donned a Milwaukee jersey, thus the Brewers never got to find out if he could have assisted the bullpen. 

Going back to the 2020 season, Stearns signed Justin Smoak, a player who had an up and down batting average but had hit double digit home runs in seven of the previous eight seasons, to be their first baseman. The 2020 season ended up being one for the history books, not in a good way, and the pandemic shortened season was not kind to Smoak.

In 2020, Smoak batted just .186, had an on base percentage of just .262 (not the Milwaukee area code one would like to see emulated by a baseball player) and five home runs in 33 games. Smoak was eventually released by the Brewers, picked up by the San Francisco Giants, played three games and was released again. He has not played in Major League Baseball since.

The final big stain on the resume of David Stearns' legacy with the Milwaukee Brewers goes back to the magical 2018 season. 2018 was a wonderful year for the Brewers: contention in the NL Central, winning game 163 over the Chicago Cubs to win the division, and going to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

But with all the good moves he made to bolster the team that season, Stearns also made a questionable one when he acquired Jonathon Schoop, a 2017 All-Star to the team from the Baltimore Orioles for Jonathon Villar, Luis Ortiz and Jean Carmona. 

Schoop did not work out well for the Brewers. Over the final 46 games of the season, Schoop batted .202, had an on base percentage of .246, lower than that which got Justin Smoak released in 2020, and hit just four home runs as a Brewer despite having hit 17 as a Baltimore Oriole in 2018. In eight postseason at bats for the Brewers in 2018, Schoop did not get on base one time. 

Thankfully that ends the worst of the worst moves in David Stearns' legacy and we can shift to the good and great moves David Stearns made.