David Stearns' legacy with the Milwaukee Brewers: the good and the great
Despite a sour 2022 trade deadline, when checking the receipts of the transactions conducted by Stearns as the head of the Brewers, he has made some of the best moves in the history of the Milwaukee franchise, and the list of good and great moves far, far outpaces the bad ones.
Beginning with the starting rotation, sticking with Corbin Burnes despite a very rough 2019 season has to be at the top of the list of "thank your lucky stars that Stearns didn't trade this guy" moves that were never made. Burnes obviously bounced back and has now won a Cy Young award and is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Freddy Peralta is another player Brewers fans have Stearns to thank for. Peralta was acquired as part of a package from the Seattle Mariners for first baseman Adam Lind. Imagine how good this year's Mariners team would be with Peralta still on it instead of the ghost of Adam Lind. To make matters better, Stearns also happened to lock up Peralta through the 2025 season on a very team friendly deal.
Another sneaky aspect of David Stearns' wizardry was getting out some of the last bits of performance from some aging pitchers, something his predecessor attempted with players like Kyle Lohse, Jeff Suppan and Matt Garza but was unsuccessful. Stearns had far more success with players like Brett Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez.
Stearns is responsible for the Zach Davies and Trent Grisham for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer trade, a move that has not only benefitted the starting rotation but also the defense on the infield with the glove of Urias who is developing into a useful utility player for the Brewers with his ability to play three infield positions.
Speaking of position players, the 2018 trade for Mike Moustakas trade worked out rather well for the Brewers. Moustakas quickly became a fan favorite and it takes just a second to remember hearing, "MOOOOOOOSE," booming from the inside of then Miller Park every time he came up to bat.
An underrated signing of Stearns' legacy was the one year deal to Yasmani Grandal in 2019. Grandal gave the Brewers some catcher stability they needed after cycling through some long tenured veterans like Stephen Vogt and Erik Kratz previously. "Yaz" hit 28 home runs as a Brewer, his career high still to this day, and was an All-Star.
Arguably one of the greatest moves David Stearns' has made is turning Drew Rasmussen and JP Feyereisen into Willy Adames and Trevor Richards, then flipping Richards to the Blue Jays for Rowdy Tellez, a much better first baseman acquisition from the Blue Jays than the one on the previous slide.
Tellez and Adames battled back and forth for the team lead in home runs in 2022 with Willy eventually winning and setting the franchise record for home runs as a shortstop, breaking the record previously held by the legendary Robin Yount. That's even more impressive when you consider that an injury kept Willy Adames out for almost a month of the season!
Another wizard like move by Stearns was getting out of a disastrous Jackie Bradley Jr. contract by attaching a couple prospects and getting Hunter Renfroe in return. Renfroe was one of, if not the best, Brewer outfielders last season.
Speaking of great Brewers outfielders, the David Stearns' legacy would not be complete without the move that turned this franchise into a contender, the day in 2018 when Lorenzo Cain signed with the Brewers and Christian Yelich was acquired from the Marlins. That day could be stamped as the one that turned baseball in Milwaukee from a summer activity to a sport that could bring the city a championship.
Top all of that off with the stable of prospects coming up in the near future, players like Garrett Mitchell, who we got to see for a bit in 2022, Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer, Jackson Chourio and many more.
David Stearns' legacy with the Milwaukee Brewers: final thoughts.
David Stearns' legacy, while tarnished by the Hader trade, has to be one of the brightest spots in the 52-year history of the Milwaukee Brewers. We are in an age of Brewers baseball where we expect the Brewers to be in the playoffs, not celebrate just getting in because it hasn't happened in years.
Four consecutive playoff appearances is something Brewers fans of this day and age would not have imagined possible when Stearns took over in 2015. He has truly ushered in a new era of baseball in Milwaukee while even on a significantly smaller payroll than teams like the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies.
David Stearns' legacy in Milwaukee has taken us from happy to make the playoffs, to expecting to be in them, make a deep run and now contend for a World Series.
For that, we thank you David Stearns.