The Brewers were able to acquire CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke under former general manager, Doug Melvin. Those trades came at a cost though. Although Sabathia and Greinke were able to carry the Brewers to the playoffs, the Brewers weren’t able to resign either of them. They also lost star first baseman, Prince Fielder, to the Tigers in free agency too.
It’s now been six years since Milwaukee was in the playoffs. The team decided to take a new direction. Towards the end of 2015 the team decided to have Doug Melvin step down.
It’s always a tough pill to swallow as a fan when your team decides to rebuild. The Brewers began trading away former all-stars Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy. In return, the Brewers received younger talent in order to look towards the future.
On September 21, 2015, the Brewers hired David Stearns as their new general manager. Stearns was the former assistant general manager for the Houston Astros prior to arriving in Milwaukee. Once he was brought into the office, Stearns got right to work.
Acquiring and developing young talent has been a trend for Stearns. Along wit the the talent the team gained in trades, they had already been developing their minor leaguers before Stearns arrived. Zach Davies, Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia were all given a lot of playing time last year to develop in the majors. Many of those players who were allowed to play the majority of 2016 showed signs that Stearns’ strategy may be working.
Zach Davies led the team in wins and ERA last season.
Keon Broxton finished last season on a high note after making adjustments in the minors.
Orlando Arcia has flashed potential of being a dynamic shortstop at age 22.
Junior Guerra came out of nowhere last season and became the Brewers tops pitcher.
Stearns had also brought over some familiar faces from the Astros organization from numerous acquisitions. Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana have both been key pieces to the Brewers since being traded from Houston. Villar led the league with 62 stolen bases last year.
These players were given the same roles on the team entering 2017. They will all be given the entire season to continue their development. Even the players that the Brewers brought in this offseason have been producing too.
Travis Shaw was traded from Boston in exchange for Tyler Thornburg. Shaw has filled a void at third base and has had a hot start at the plate. He already has seven RBI in eleven games. Shaw has little experience in the majors too. He still could be developing his game and turn out to be a great pick up for the future. He fits Stearns’ plan to acquire young talent.
The Brewers needed to fill the spot at first base this season after losing Chris Carter in free agency. Jesus Aguilar was picked up off of waivers from the Indians this offseason. Stearns may have gotten a steal off of waivers this season. Aguilar started 2017 with a monster spring training. He’s batting .381 in his first ten games. Aguilar’s shown a lot of potential to be a great replacement from Carter.
There’s a problem though at first base. The team also decided to give Eric Thames a shot to contend at first base as well. Thames had played the last three years in Korea. Looking at his production from overseas, the team decided to take a shot. In those three years, he batted .348 with 124 HR, 379 RBI and 64 stolen bases in 388 games. Thames has also had a hot start to 2017 too. He’s batting .367 with three home runs in nine games.
The Brewers may have gotten an unexpected amount of firepower on offense this offseason without expecting it. Thankfully, it’s turned out well for Stearns.
Stearns doesn’t appear to be done either. The team has been shuffling pitchers up and down the minors this season already.
They have also gained Oliver Drake from the Orioles in exchange for a prospect. Drake will help solidify the Brewers bullpen.
Nick Franklin was claimed off of waivers too. Franklin adds a switch hitter to the Brewers offense.
With the Chicago Cubs in their division, the Brewers will need to a better team together.
The Brewers can still make plenty of moves to keep improving. There are even still rumors of Ryan Braun being dealt to another team.
Braun is the last veteran left on the team that hasn’t been traded. This is largely due to the money he’s still owed. Even if the Brewers didn’t deal Braun, he could still be a productive bat in the Brewers lineup.
They may have a handful of players on this year’s team that they could build around, but there’s more. Because of the talent Stearns has acquired through multiple deals, the Brewers have even more talent within their farm system too.
Lewis Brinson is another top prospect in the Brewers farm system. He was one the main pieces the team gained from the Rangers in exchange for Jonathan Lucroy.
The Brewers appear to have bought in on Stearns’ plan. The organization slowly continues to gain valuable young talent in each acquisition they make. They are now stockpiling young talent. With players already producing on the team this year, the future’s looking bright under Stearns. The Brewers could be more competitive than teams may be expecting. It looks like Stearns’ plan is working though. It may be ahead of schedule even.