Something's Brewing in Milwaukee: Stearns Open to Any Avenue to Improve

The Brewers made their only World Series appearances in 1982.

Two years and 121 days after the final out in Milwaukee’s Game 7 loss to the Cardinals, David Stearns was born on Feb. 18, 1985.

And today, in his third full season as the general manager of the Brewers, the 33-year-old Stearns is the man charged with putting the pieces together to get the club back into the Fall Classic—and more.

“I have seen some really good Brewers teams, especially in the last decade,” Stearns said, “but I have never seen a Brewers team in the World Series. My goal is to not only see them get back to a World Series, but to take that final step to a championship.”

He has not been shy to look at every avenue for improvement -- home-growns, free agents, trades and even waiver claims.

Before the first spring training of Stearns’ regime had even opened, he acquired more than a dozen new players in what was a massive movement of veterans—including Khris Davis, Adam Lind, Francisco Rodriguez and Jean Segura—in exchange for youth that he hoped would be the foundation of the future.

Trade (13)
y-RHP Chase Anderson Arizona Jan. 30, 2016 with two others for
Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner
C Jeff Bandy LAA April 13, 2016 for Drew Gagnon and
Martin Maldonado
y-RHP Zach Davies Balt July 13, 2015 for Gerardo Parra
LHP Josh Hader Hou July 30, 2015 for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez
with Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser and Domingo Santana
RHP Jeremy Jeffres Tex July 31, 2017 for RHP Tayler Scott
RHP Corey Knebel Tex Jan. 19, 2015 for Yovani Gallardo
RHP Freddy Peralta Sea Dec. 9, 2015 for Adam Lind with RHPs Daniel Missaki
and Carlos Herrera
C Manny Pina Det Dec. 10, 2015 for Player to be Named Later
2B Tyler Saladino CWS Apr. 19, 2018 for cash
OF Domingo Santana Hou July 30, 2015 for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez with
Josh Hader, Brett Phillips and Adrian Houser
3B Travis Shaw Bos June 5, 2017 for RHP Tyler Thornberg
2B Jonathan Villar Hou Nov. 11, 2015 for RHP Cy Sneed
OF Christian Yelich Mia Jan. 25, 2018 for RHP Jordan Yamamoto, INF Isan Diaz,
OF Monte Harrison and OF Louis Brinson

y-denote player is on 10-day disabled list

Of the 29 players on the Brewers active roster or disabled list on Monday, only six were in the organization before Stearns arrived.

Home Grown (6) Signed
SS Orlando Arcia 10-22-10 FA Venezuela
OF Ryan Braun 1st round (5th overall) 2000 Draft
x-RHP Jimmy Nelson 2nd 2010 Draft
LHP Brent Suter 31st round 2012 Draft
RHP Taylor Williams 4th round 2013
RHP Brandon Woodruff 11th round 2014

x-denotee player us ib 60-day disabled list

A franchise that lost 94 games and finished 32 games out of first place in 2015 was a surprise in 2017, when it finished second in the NL Central. With an 86-76 record, the Brewers came up one win shy of advancing to the postseason.

And they did it with some in-season efforts that included using the waiver route.

Waiver Claim (4)
1B Jesus Aguilar from Cleveland Feb. 2, 2017
RHP Junior Guerra from CWS Oct. 17, 2015
Util HernanPerez from Det. June 2, 2015
C Stephen Vogt from Oak June 25, 2017

And they are right in the middle of the mix this year.

That was good—but not good enough. And with the encouragement (and checkbook) of owner Mark Attanasio, Stearns and Co. had a busy offseason. This time they added established big league players at the expense of prospects, convinced that the rebuild was three years ahead of schedule.

“We went into last year understanding we had young guys who were going to play,” Stearns said, “and we were going to see who fit into the mix.”

So many players took a step forward in 2017 that it surprised Stearns.

“Our players told us they were ready to complete,” he said

The Brewers listened, which was never more evident than the Jan. 25 trade in which they acquired outfielder Christian Yelich from the Marlins at the price of four prospects, including three of the system’s top 10. Outfielders Lewis Brinson (No. 1) and Monte’ Harrison (No. 5) and second baseman Isan Diaz (No. 9) were the headliners, but in Yelich they acquired a star player who has four years plus a club option remaining on his contract.

“Our strategy is to acquire and retain the best young talent in baseball,” Stearns said. “That needs to be our core. We are never going to build a team with free agents.”

But when the Brewers felt the ground beginning to rumble, they knew it was time to supplement the core with some veteran stability.

So they signed free agent starting pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo and reliever Boone Logan, and then made the ultimate statement on Jan. 26, when they agreed to a five-year $80 million deal with free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

Free Agent (7)
RHP Matt Albers Jan. 1, 2018
Previous Teams: Hou, Balt, Bos, Ariz, Clev, Hou, CWS, Wash
OF Lorenzo Cain Jan. 26, 2018
Previous Teams: Mil, KC
RHP Jhoulys Chacin Dec. 21, 2017
Previous Teams: Colo, Ariz, Atl, LAA, SD
y-2B Nick Franklin Jan. 15, 2018
Previous Teams: Sea, TB, Mil, LAA
LHP Dan Jennings Mar. 30, 2018
Previous Teams: Mia, CWS, TB
LHP Boone Logan Jan. 10, 2018
Previous Teams: CWS, Oak, NYY, Colo, Clev
x-Wade Miley Jan. 16, 2018
Previous Teams: Ariz, Bos, Sea, Balt

y-denotes player is on the 10-dat disabled list x-denotes player is on the 60-day disabled list