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A Look Back at the Biggest Brewers Trade Deadline Deals

Jul. 31, 2017
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Zack Greinke, who the Brewers sold in 2012 to the Angels for Jean Segura and two others. - Joshua Mayer (Flickr CC)

As of this writing just a few short hours remain before the 2017 MLB non-waiver trade deadline, the culmination of weeks of discussions about how the Milwaukee Brewers should attempt to balance their ongoing rebuilding process against the urge to capitalize on the 2017 team’s unexpected success. Today has the potential to be an exciting day but, as I said a year ago in a similar situation, there’s not a lot that can be done to preview the week ahead that might not become moot before the ink is dry on this digital page.

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Given that challenge with looking ahead to an uncertain future, all one can do is look back. A look back today reveals that if the Brewers do decide to make a move before the trade deadline it could be a rare moment in franchise history.

MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline was moved back from June 15 to the end of July in 1986, so the current system has been in place for 31 years now. During that time the Brewers have taken the opportunity to sell off assets at the last minute on quite a few occasions:

·       In 1996 they shipped outfielder Greg Vaughn to the Padres for three young major leaguers, none of which were in Milwaukee very long.

·       In 2000 the Brewers sent three pitchers, most notably closer Bob Wickman, to Cleveland for a package including first baseman Richie Sexson and player to be named later Marco Scutaro, who went on to play 13 MLB seasons.

·       In 2006 outfielder Carlos Lee went to Texas in a six-player deal but the most notable name in the move, Nelson Cruz, was still years removed from stardom.

·       In 2012 they sold Zack Greinke to the Angels for Jean Segura and two others.

·       In 2015 they dealt Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros for four players, including three that have played in games for Milwaukee this season.

·       A year ago they sent Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers in a deal that resulted in a pretty clear win for David Stearns and company.

The Brewers have actively worked to deal MLB players away at the trade deadline but it’s been rare to see moves flow in the other direction: The only time Milwaukee has been buyers in the trade market’s final hours was 2014, when they added outfielder Gerardo Parra from Arizona (and dealt away Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger and Diamondbacks #4 overall prospect Anthony Banda). Even that move was barely a blockbuster, as Parra was hitting just .259 with a .305 on-base percentage and .362 slugging at the time of the transaction.

None of this is to say, of course, that the Brewers have never been buyers on the trade market. But most of the most important or significant moves in that category have either occurred during the winter (like the deal bringing Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich to Milwaukee in 1980 or Zack Greinke in 2010) or well in advance of the trade deadline (see CC Sabathia coming over in early July in 2008). For an array of reasons, by this point in the year the Brewers have typically been done adding talent at the MLB level.

And, for what it’s worth, the Brewers may be done adding this year as well: Despite picking up Anthony Swarzak from the White Sox, Milwaukee enters today’s off day having won just six of their last 17 games and having lost eight games in the standings to the Cubs over that time, falling from 5.5 games ahead in the NL Central to 2.5 games behind with Sunday’s loss. If they do decide to make a big addition, though, it will reflect a rare moment in franchise history.

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