Reading Kyle's Doug Melvin post earlier today, it struck me how fantastic both Doug Melvin and David Stearns have been in the trade market over the past few years. After reviewing every trade the Brewers have made involving players currently on the Major League roster or in our farm system, I present to you: The Top 10 trades that have helped the Brewers make it to 50 wins by the ASG break and sit 5.5 games above the Cubs and Cards while still in "rebuild" mode.
*A quick note about the rankings. Only players still currently in the Brewers system are considered for this, even though previous trades may have played a significant role in putting the current team together. Also, the main consideration was simply: [Value for Brewers] minus [Value for trade partner]... no hard science, per se. I've left a few minor trade pieces out to keep descriptions shorter.
#10) Oliver Drake from Baltimore for Damien Magnifico [4.13.17]
In this early-season swap of bullpen arms, it seems pretty clear Milwaukee came out on top. Drake has been decent out of the 'pen, with a 3.30 FIP and 3.6 K/BB ratio so far this year. Magnifico was cut by Baltimore, and across 3 team's AAA clubs this year has an ERA over 6.
#9) Chase Anderson, Isan Diaz and Aaron Hill from Arizona for Jean Segura [1.30.16]
Not so clear cut of a "winner" for the Brewers, since Segura has crushed it the last 2 seasons (with an .869 OPS since the start of the 2016 campaign). However, he was struggling big-time before leaving Milwaukee, and there's no way to tell if staying put would have kept him in his slump. Hill was flipped to Boston later in the season (limiting Travis Shaw's playing time, but we'll get to that later...), Diaz is ranked as one of the Brewers Top-5 prospects, and Anderson has come into his own this year before getting injured, with a 3.45 FIP and 1.10 WHIP, good for 2.4 WAR already.
#8) Keon Broxton from Pittsburgh for Jason Rogers [12.17.15]
It's hard to believe that a trade resulting in our everyday CF for essentially nothing only comes in at #8, but luckily for us, Melvin + Stearns seem to be pull off steals like almost as often as the 2017 Crew puts up 5 runs in the 1st inning (see also: clockwork). Jason Rogers hit .080 in 23 games last year. In half a season (75 games) last year, Broxton put up a .755 OPS, good for 2.1 WAR. His power is starting to show this year, with 14 HR, and he's one of our top run-scorers, with 48.
#7) Manny Pina from Detroit for K-Rod [11.18.15]
The only thing better than "something for nothing" is "something for not much, and a salary dump". K-Rod was a decent closer last year, but blew up this year before being cut last month. The Crew saved $7.5 mil last year, and in return, the PTBNL turned out to be our best catcher so far this year. Pina lucked out a bit as Andrew Susac was hit with injuries before the season started, and has seized the opportunity for big league playing time by putting up a .786 OPS in 54 games through the break.
#5-Tie) Zach Davies from Baltimore for Gerardo Parra [7.31.15]
#5-Tie) Jonathan Villar from Houston for Cy Sneed [11.19.15]
The 2-way tie for 5th is shared by a pair of trades that can also be categorized as "something for nothing". First, the Davies trade. Gerardo Parra was absolutely crushing it the 1st half of 2015, but it was a meaningless season on the field for the Brewers. After being traded, Parra's batting average was nearly 100 points lower with Baltimore, and his OPS with Baltimore was .625. Meanwhile, Davies had an amazing 2016, and although he's struggled a bit this year, he's controllable through 2021 and figures into the Brewer's long-term plans for the rotation without a doubt.
Meanwhile, just a day after acquiring Manny Pineapple, the Brewers acquired a supposedly bust past-prospect from Houston in Jonathan Villar. Villar proceeded to put up All-Star numbers last year .826 OPS with 62 steals). Similar to Davies, Villar has struggled in his 2nd year with the Crew, but there's no doubt we're better off with Villar than Cy Sneed's 5.4 ERA in AA this year.
#4) Cory Knebel and Marcos Diplan from Texas for Yovani Gallardo [1.19.15]
Texas got exactly what they hoped for with Gallardo - a solid, 1 year rental. The Brewers offloaded the final year of Gallardo's contract worth $14 mil and in return got your lone 2017 Brewers All-Star, who, by the way, has been absolutely lights out. Knebel has struck an opposing batter out in every single appearance so far this year, makingitan easy call to demote Neftali Feli from closer early on this season. Diplan comes in as our #11 propsect according to MLB.com's preseason rankings.
#3) Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, Ryan Cordell from Texas for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress [8.1.16]
The Rangers got Lucroy, arguably the best all-around catcher in the league at the time, on one of the most team-friendly contracts for an All-Star caliber player. Unfortunately, Luc's gone on to have his worst season at the plate this year , with a .666 OPS so far. Both Luroy and Jeffress have contributed negative WAR to the Rangers in 2017. Also, less than a month after the trade, Jeffress was arrested for drunk driving. Jeffress has a 5.34 ERA this year, and his BB/9 has shot up to 4.5. On the flip side, the Brewers beefed up their farm system big time, with the 3 ex-Rangers prospects coming in as the Brewers #1, #4 and #16 prospects in the organization. Brinson didn't find much success in his first short stint in the Big Leagues, but there's little doubt that this group of prospects will have an impact in the Brewers' future success.
#2) Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, Brett Phillips from Houston for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez [7.30.15]
Yes, Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter and hungry college students across the country got their free Domino-no pizza. But besides that, Fiers has been quite average, contributing 2.4 WAR since moving south at the 2015 deadline. Gomez was one of the Brewers best hitters at the time, but with only a year and a half left on his contract, Milwaukee had no choice but to deal him as our rebuild began. Gomez was cut a year later, as his OPS was under .600 in his time with Texas. Domingo has stepped his game up considerably this year, with an .881 OPS, 50 RBIs and 54 runs scored, good for 2.0 WAR so far. Hader has been a lockdown lefty coming out of the bullpen since being called up, and proves to be a valuable starter in the years to come. Phillips is ranked as our #10 prospect by MLB.com.
#1) Travis Shaw and Mauricio Dubon from Boston for Tyler Thornburg [12.6.16]
To be fair, quite a bit of luck played into this being the #1 trade. But, as they say, all is fair in love, war, and finding ways to beat the Cubs. After a fantastic 2016, Thornburg hasn't pitched a single inning due to injury this year. Meanwhile, after Boston gave up on Shaw, he has absolutely crushed it for the Crew thiss year, without a doubt our best hitter in the 1st half. 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .938 OPS. Meanwhile, Boston's biggest need in their push for the AL East is an improvement at 3rd. If Slingin' David Stearns could have seen the future, I doubt he would have even asked for Dubon. But just to make this one even sweeter, Dubon ranks as one of the Brewers Top-10 prospects, per MLB.com.
As I said in the opener, no hard science was used to rank these trades- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments how you would have ranked them. Thanks for reading!