The Milwaukee Brewers could potentially mortgage the future with a trade for a chance at the World Series in 2018. Should they?
Should the Milwaukee Brewers go “all in” to win the World Series in 2018? That is the question many fans and pundits are asking in the wake of a maelstrom of rumors connecting the NL-leading Brew Crew to numerous players, most prominently trade scenarios for Baltimore’s Manny Machado.
Based on the high stakes of playing prospect poker in the trade game, the Brewers are facing an exciting and also dangerous time for the franchise in July and August when trades are still allowed.
The difficult thing about this inevitable discourse is that it’s impossible to grasp the true variables playing on the future or even what general manager David Stearns and club are inclined to do. If the Brewers elected to “own the present” and dealt valuable prospects for a game-changing player or players on the way to a deep postseason run or a World Series, the gamble would be worthwhile.
However, if Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta or other potentially great young players were traded and the Brewers’ rented acquisition provided no buoyancy in the postseason, it could detrimentally sidetrack what has been a remarkably efficient and productive rebuild.
Sure, it’s tempting to dream big. For the first time in at least three years, the Brewers are in position to do some serious damage in baseball’s exclusive playoffs, if they can get there. Aside from the mirage in 2014 and last season’s painful conclusion, this is the first real Brewers threat since 2011. Credit is due to Stearns and his team for the phenomenal work done since his hire in 2015.
Further, there are good memories of the enormous trade for CC Sabathia in the middle of the 2008 season and the popular but costly trade for Zack Greinke in December 2010 that propelled the Brewers to the postseason each of those years.
The caveat is that rarely is a season’s savior found on the trade market. The Brewers have already discovered Jesús, and the likelihood of another messiah is not great. JD Martinez gave the Diamondbacks a terrific boost in 2017, but as with all things, his cumulative impact on the Diamondbacks’ fortunes last season is up for debate. Arizona looked strong until it was swept out of the NLDS by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neither Sabathia nor Greinke led the Brewers to the World Series, and neither pitcher performed well in the playoffs for Milwaukee. Sabathia pitched for the Brewers for only a few months and Greinke was gone after a season and a half. As fun as it was to have Greinke in the rotation, his acquisition didn’t put the Brewers over the top and the loss of prospects was felt by the organization for years afterward.
Manny Machado is a heck of player, but there’s no guarantee he would be a difference maker for the Brewers. In addition, the team is finally starting to stand up on the talent of its own system and less on aging and free agent players, which is very satisfying, especially for long-time observers who have winced so many times over the years as the franchise has stubbed its toe on decision after decision.
David Stearns has earned the trust of Brewers fans. He has proven to be a smart executive and keen baseball mind. Let’s hope he continues to have a level head and neither overreact nor underreact to the Brewers’ promising but fleeting position.