The Successful Rebuild of the Milwaukee Brewers


Cade Moore

Before game one of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers

Cade Moore

The next major trade of the rebuild came on July 30th of the same year, when the Crew sent Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez to the Houston Astros for Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser, Domingo Santana, and Josh Hader. Fiers and Gomez have been serviceable since the trade, although neither of them are still with the Astros nor have they recaptured the success they found while members of the Brewers. The prospects sent to Milwaukee, on the other hand, have been instrumental in the success of our current team. Bret Phillips was recently traded to the Royals for third baseman Mike Moustakas, and Adrian Houser has only made a handful of appearances in the big leagues, but Santana and Hader are some of the better young players in the game today. Santana started the 2018 season unbearably slow, earning him a prolonged stint in the minors, but take his exceptional pinch-hitting ability he has shown late this season and the thirty home runs he hit in 2017 it seems that the future is bright for Domingo.

Meanwhile, Hader has turned into arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball. He made his first all-star team this season and is leading the best bullpen in the league while breaking multiple records. The next day, outfielder Gerardo Parra was traded to the Orioles for pitching prospect Zach Davies. Since the swap, Gerardo Parra has played at below replacement level for the Orioles and Rockies, and Zach Davies has had four pretty decent seasons in the Milwaukee rotation with an ERA of just over 4.04.

By this point, the team has completed their 2015 season about as well as expected. With a record of 68-94 and a fourth-place finish in the NL Central, the rebuild is far from over. The first trade of the offseason, and of brand new GM David Stearns career occurred on November 18th when he sent Francisco Rodriguez (or K-Rod if you prefer) to the Detroit Tigers for Javier Betancourt who is currently playing in an independent league, and Manny Piña. K-Rod had one more good season for the Tigers before blowing up and finding himself without a job by the end of the 2017 season. Less than a month later, first baseman Adam Lind is traded to the Seattle Mariners for prospects Carlos Herrera, Daniel Missaki, and Freddy Peralta.

Since then, Missaki has not appeared in a game for any organization and Herrera is still buried in the minors. Freddy Peralta made his debut midway through the 2018 season against the Rockies and broke the Brewers’ record for most strikeouts in a debut appearance. Peralta has quickly become one of the many promising young pitchers within the Brewers organization. Adam Lind had decently good 2016 and 2017 seasons but bounced around multiple teams this year while never making an appearance. On January 30th of 2016, shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Tyler Wagner were sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Isan Diaz who was sent last offseason to Miami in the Christian Yelich trade. He has worked his way up to AAA and is still regarded as a top prospect. They also received Aaron Hill who was at the end of his career at the time and has continued to bounce around multiple teams, and Chase Anderson who has been a valuable member of the Brewers rotation, including getting the job of opening day starter in 2018. This is the first trade that seems questionable in hindsight, Jean Segura received a 3% share of the MVP award, finishing 13th in voting during the 2016 season and was an all-star this past year. Next came a trade that at this point is pretty safe to call bad. The trade consisted of the Brewers sending slugger Khris Davis to the Athletics for pitching prospect Bubba Derby and catching prospect Jacob Nottingham. Derby is still in AAA but looks like he may make it to the majors within the next two seasons, and Nottingham spent time on the Brewers roster this year but did not impress. Khris Davis has hit 40+ homers in each of his three seasons on the Athletics, including leading the league with 48 this season. Now it’s not completely time to close the book on Derby and Nottingham, but right now it’s not looking good.

Slingin’ David Stearns would hold off on the trades for a couple of months until near the end of another poor season when he slung superstar catcher and ace closer Jeremy Jeffress to the Texas Rangers for the organization’s new top prospect Lewis Brinson, promising pitcher Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell. Oddly enough none of the three players that were received by the Brewers are still in the organization, having been traded for Christian Yelich, Jonathan Schoop, and Anthony Swarzak respectively, but one of the players who was traded away, Jeremy Jeffress, is back on the team. After spending about one disappointing season in Texas, the Brewers sent one lower level prospect to reacquire Jeffress. He has made it worth it, making the all-star team this season. Jonathan Lucroy has also struggled since he was dealt to the Rangers. He’s spent time on three different teams in the time since and hasn’t had really any more very productive seasons since his last with the Brewers. On that same day, the team traded reliever Will Smith to the San Francisco Giants for prospects Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac. The Brewers came out on the wrong end of this one, both prospects received have had disappointing seasons in the Brewers minor league system while Smith threw 53 innings with an ERA under three this season. That offseason, Stearns completed one of his best trades as general manager. He sent reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox and in return received prospects Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington, and Yeison Coca, as well as Travis Shaw who was already in the majors. Dubon is the only one of the prospects who is looking to make the majors anytime soon, but Travis Shaw quickly blossomed into a star at third base. In each of his two seasons with the Brewers, he has surpassed 30 home runs and has played almost flawless defense. Tyler Thornburg didn’t appear in a game for the Red Sox until July of 2018.

That proved to be the last major trade of the Brewers rebuild. The team shattered expectations the following summer, fighting for a playoff spot until the final day of the season. Many of the prospects received in previous trades were dealt for established major leaguers who could help the team win now. The Milwaukee front office knew exactly what they were doing; even if not to the extent that it worked out. Each move was calculated to make the team a perennial world series contender. So ask anyone, the Milwaukee Brewers should not be here, but yet here they are. Ask the Brewers, and they’ll tell you they’re here to stay, and who knows, they seem pretty good at predicting things like that.


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