The first official workouts begin today for the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park, marking the end of the 2016-17 offseason. This winter wasn’t quite as active as the first offseason under Slingin’ David Stearns, but the young GM still kept us on our toes with a few major moves as well as multitude of minor transactions around the fringes of the 40 man roster. With the 2017 season now underway, let’s take a look back at all the moves that Stearns’ executed during the last several months:
LHP Sam Kirkman elected free agency.
LHP Michael Kirkman elected free agency.
IF Will Middlebrooks elected free agency.
LHP Sean Nolin outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs.
OF Rymer Liriano claimed off waivers by Chicago White Sox.
UTIL Jake Elmore outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
Signed free agent RHP Chad Nading to MiLB deal.
LHP Chris Capuano elected free agency.
RHP Blaine Boyer elected free agency.
RHP Yhonathan Barrios outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
C Josmil Pinto outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
RHP Hiram Burgos elected free agency.
IF Garin Cecchini outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
RHP Tim Dillard elected free agency.
OF Ramon Flores elected free agency.
C Michael McKenry elected free agency.
OF Shane Peterson elected free agency.
RHP Ben Rowen outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
1B Andy Wilkins outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
Re-signed RHP Yhonathan Barrios to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Signed free agent RHP Paolo Espino to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Claimed OF Adam Brett Walker off waivers from Minnesota Twins.
Claimed RHP Blake Parker off waivers from Los Angeles Angels.
Claimed RHP Steve Geltz off waivers from Tampa Bay Rays.
Signed free agent RHP Luke Barker to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent 1B Eric Thames to 3-year major league contract.
RHP Steve Geltz outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs, elected free agency.
1B Chris Carter non-tendered, granted free agency.
OF Adam Brett Walker claimed off waivers by Baltimore Orioles.
RHP David Goforth outrighted to AAA Colorado Springs.
RHP Tyler Thornburg traded to Boston Red Sox for 3B Travis Shaw, SS Mauricio Dubon, and RHP Josh Pennington.
Select LHP Caleb Smith from Yankees in Rule 5 Draft.
LHP Caleb Smith traded to Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.
RHP Miguel Diaz selected by Minnesota Twins (and traded to San Diego Padres) in Rule 5 Draft.
Select 1B Art Charles from Cincinnati Reds in MiLB portion of Rule 5 Draft.
Select RHP Matt Ramsey from Miami Marlins in MiLB portion of Rule 5 Draft.
Signed free agent RHP Ryan Webb to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Re-signed RHP Tim Dillard to MiLB deal.
Re-signed C Rene Garcia to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent LHP Andrew Barbosa to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent IF Ivan DeJesus, Jr. to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Signed free agent RHP Forrest Snow to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
C Martin Maldonado and RHP Drew Gagnon traded to Los Angeles Angels for C Jett Bandy.
Signed free agent LHP Tommy Milone to 1-year (non-guaranteed) major league contact.
Re-signed RHP Hiram Burgos to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Signed free agent LHP Andy Oliver to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Signed free agent UTIL Eric Sogard to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
RHP Blake Parker claimed off waivers by Los Angeles Angels.
Signed free agent OF Luis Valdez to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent RHP Wilmy De Jesus to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent C Cody Decker to MiLB deal.
Signed free agent RHP Neftali Feliz to 1-year major league contract.
Signed free agent RHP Joba Chamberlain to MiLB deal with invite to Spring Training.
Claimed IF Ehire Adrianza off waivers from San Francisco Giants.
Claimed 1B Jesus Aguilar off waivers from Cleveland Indians.
RHP Rob Scahill outrighed to AAA Colorado Springs.
IF Ehire Adrianza claimed off waivers by Minnesota Twins.
Signed free agent IF Nick Noonan to MiLB deal.
David Stearns earned his Slingin’ moniker last winter after completing a large volume of trades, but this offseason just three such transactions were completed; only one - the Tyler Thornburg exchange with Boston - could be classified as a major deal. Stearns mostly tinkered around the edges of the 40 man roster, including nineteen transactions involving the waiver wire in some way: five players claimed, four players lost on waivers, and another ten players outrighted off of the 40 man roster, with seven of those electing to become free agents.
Broken down, the Brewers brought 20 arms into the organization this winter (though three of them were lost shortly thereafter - Parker, Geltz, Smith) and 13 position players (though Walker and Adrianza both were later lost to waivers). That’s down quite a bit from the 45 players that Slingin’ Stearns added to the franchise during his first offseason at the helm in Milwaukee, but this winter’s focus was more on bringing in veteran minor league depth and filling some holes at the big league level than it was on rebuilding trades for young, controllable talent.
The "tear-down" phase of the Brewers’ rebuilding project is over, and it has been for awhile. It’s hard even to classify the Tyler Thornburg deal as a "rebuilding trade", since Milwaukee received a major league player who will be their starting third baseman in return. The only two major contracts that remain on the books for Milwaukee are Matt Garza, who will need to have a strong first half in order to be dealt before his deal expires at the end of 2017, and face-of-the-franchise Ryan Braun, whose market never really materialized this winter after we were all but assured that he would be dealt to the Dodgers.
Heading into 2017, the Brewers will field a lineup that has been called "underrated" along with a crowded starting rotation and young bullpen. There will be plenty of competition for jobs, with pitching and positional prospects who are hungry for a shot at the big leagues that will be pushing the young players in the MLB who have yet to fully establish themselves. With the tear-down phase now complete, the goal for the Brewers this season will be to see which breakout players from last season can cement their roles in the organization’s future and what new names will stake their claim to a spot in the big leagues.