The Milwaukee Brewers have been the busiest team in baseball this offseason, and it’s clear they aren’t finished making moves, even with less than three weeks to go until training camp opens. After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the Brewers have their eyes set on winning for the next few seasons.
As good as the Brewers look on paper, it’s not something people should be sold on just yet. Every year there’s a ball club that everyone talks about going into the season just because they made moves that make them a threat to the rest of the league. Though some teams have been successful after moves like these (such as the 2015 Chicago Cubs and 2017 Colorado Rockies), more teams have been a bust.
As of now, the Brewers have added depth to what was already a decent outfield and made some tweaks to the bullpen. They added Christian Yelich in a trade with the Miami Marlins for top prospect Lewis Brinson and two other minor league players, and re-signed Lorenzo Cain for five years and $80 million, a club record for a signing. They also signed veteran reliever Boone Logan and starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Jhoulys Chacin.
With ace Jimmy Nelson out until June, the club could look to add another starting pitcher in the next couple of weeks. It’s likely they won’t sign Yu Darvish, but Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb could be primary targets within budget for the club.
Now that the Brewers have Cain and Yelich, the club has to decide on outfielders Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips. It’s likely a trade will go down involving Santana or even Braun to clear space for a platoon in the outfield with Broxton and Phillips. A deal involving Braun or Santana could bring a starting pitcher, giving the Brewers room to sign a starting pitcher or top bullpen arm.
Why you shouldn’t be sold
It’s easy to say the Brewers will compete with the Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central this season, but we shouldn’t overlook that more teams who have taken the same approach that the Brewers have this offseason have failed to win that season.
After the Seattle Mariners missed the playoffs by one game in 2014, they signed outfielder Nelson Cruz, starting pitcher JA Happ and closer Fernando Rodney along with trading for first baseman Logan Morrison and outfielder Seth Smith. The team went from 87-75 in 2014 to 76-86 in 2015 that also led to the firing of manager Lloyd McClendon.
The San Diego Padres did a similar thing the same season, acquiring outfielders Justin and Melvin Upton and closer Craig Kimbrel in separate deals and acquiring Wil Myers from the Rays. They also signed outfielder Matt Kemp and starting pitcher James Shields to multi-year deals. For a team that was expected to win the NL West, they ended up finishing fourth in their division and manager Bud Black was fired in June, with the team one game under .500. If you look at the Padres roster now, the only name still on the club from those trades and signings is Myers, who is essentially the face of the franchise.
Finally, in 2016, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a splash by signing free agent starting pitcher Zack Greinke for six years and trading for starting pitcher Shelby Miller and shortstop Jean Segura. The Diamondbacks went from 79-83 in 2015 to 69-93 and narrowly escaped a last place finish in the NL West, though it was enough for the club to change managers and GMs.
It won’t be a surprise if the Brewers compete in the postseason but it won’t be a surprise if they take a step back from last year in 2018 either.