Milwaukee Brewers General Manager – ‘Dealing’ Dave Stearns as I call him – fired up the MLB Hot Stove League by making a trade with the Miami Marlins for All-Star Outfielder Christian Yelich and then an hour later signed former Brewer Lorenzo Cain as a free agent.
A couple things came to mind with these moves.
In order to get a talent like Yelich – and if you don’t know how good this kid is you don’t follow baseball too closely – they had to trade Lewis Brinson, their top prospect in the deal.
The Brewers have control of Yelich, 26, through the 2021 season with a club option for 2022. He is a career .290 hitter with 59 HR, 293 RBI and 72 stolen bases in 643 games with the Marlins (2013-17).
He batted .282 with 18 HR, 81 RBI and 16 stolen bases in a career-high 156 games last season. He ranked among the National League leaders in runs (T7th, 100), at-bats (8th, 602), hits (9th, 170), doubles (9th, 36) and walks (10th, 80).
Yelich led Major League center fielders last season in fielding percentage (.997) and ranked second in starts (155) and fourth in total chances (372) as he committed just a single error all year. It marked his first full season as a center fielder after winning a Gold Glove Award in left field in 2014 and being named a Gold Glove finalist in both 2015 and 2016.
Nobody wanted to trade Brinson because of all the hype that came with him. But the key is he is still a ‘prospect.’
When I worked for the Brewers I can go back to what will always be considered – ‘The Trade.’
On Dec. 12, 1980, the Brewers acquired catcher Ted Simmons, pitcher Pete Vuckovich and closer Rollie Fingers from St. Louis in exchange for outfielders Sixto Lezcano and David Green and pitchers Lary Sorensen and Dave LaPoint.
Whereas Lezcano, Sorensen and LaPoint were major leaguers, but Cards GM Whitey Herzog told Brewers GM Harry Dalton he wouldn’t make the trade without the great David Green, one of the top ‘prospects’ (there’s that word again) in baseball.
The head of the scouting department and the baseball operations personnel almost came to blows at the winter meetings over including Green in the deal before Dalton stepped in.
Lezcano went on to play 72 games with the Cardinals, San Diego, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Sorensen played with the Cardinals one year, two years with Cleveland, Oakland, Chicago Cubs, Montreal and San Francisco, having one season over .500 (12-11) with the Indians.
LaPoint played with the Cards, Giants, Detroit, Padres, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburg and New York Yankees and won 14 games twice.
Green played six years in the majors, five with Cards and one with the Giants, finishing with a .268 batting average 31 homers and 180 RBIs and had off-the-field problems that cut his career short.
The Brewers got two MVPs (Fingers, Vuke) and an excellent hitting catcher (Simmons) in the deal.
I have nothing but respect for the four prospects Stearns traded and I hope they have good careers.
But I’ll always remember David Green.