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10 biggest trades in Brewers history

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- The best trade in Brewers history is easy, since it's not every franchise that can point to acquiring a Hall of Famer, a borderline Hall of Famer and the next year's Cy Young Award winner in the same swap.

But after that Brewers-Cardinals classic, rating trades depends on whether one favors immediate or long-term impact. Are there bonus points for the sheer number of players involved, or for simplicity? We're sure you'll find flaws with the following ranking, but here's our crack at the 10 biggest trades in Brewers history:

MILWAUKEE -- The best trade in Brewers history is easy, since it's not every franchise that can point to acquiring a Hall of Famer, a borderline Hall of Famer and the next year's Cy Young Award winner in the same swap.

But after that Brewers-Cardinals classic, rating trades depends on whether one favors immediate or long-term impact. Are there bonus points for the sheer number of players involved, or for simplicity? We're sure you'll find flaws with the following ranking, but here's our crack at the 10 biggest trades in Brewers history:

1. The Blockbuster
Brewers got from Cardinals: RHP Rollie Fingers, C Ted Simmons, RHP Pete Vuckovich
Brewers gave up: OF Sixto Lezcano, RHP Lary Sorensen, LHP Dave LaPoint, OF David Green
Date: Dec. 12, 1980

The Brewers netted a seven-time All-Star catcher who some argue deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame (Simmons) and the next two American League Cy Young Award winners (future Hall of Fame closer Fingers and starting pitcher Vuckovich) in a swap that sent Milwaukee on a path to its only AL pennant. A Sports Illustrated headline the following March called it "The Trade That Made Milwaukee Famous." In hindsight, it was a one-sided deal. Fingers won the AL Most Valuable Player Award and AL Cy Young Award the following season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. Vuckovich tied for the Major League lead with 14 wins in '81 and was the '82 AL Cy Young Award winner, while Simmons made two All-Star teams with the Brewers. Meanwhile, Lezcano and Sorensen never came close to matching the production they'd posted in Milwaukee, pitching prospect LaPoint was a journeyman for 12 Major League seasons and injuries and off-field troubles contributed to Green, a premium prospect at the time, never making a significant impact.

Video: Brewers Retired Number: No. 34, Rollie Fingers

2. MVP to Milwaukee
Brewers got from Marlins: OF Christian Yelich
Brewers gave up: OFs Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, IF Isan Diaz and RHP Jordan Yamamoto
Date: Jan. 25, 2018

The Brewers didn't know it at the time, but they were getting the soon-to-be National League MVP when they sent four premium prospects, including top prospect Brinson, to Miami for Yelich, who was particularly attractive because he was entering his age-26 season and came with five years of club control. Yelich became the first player to be dealt to an NL team and then win MVP honors since Braves third baseman Bob Elliott in 1947. And he was best down the stretch, posting MLB's best second-half slugging percentage in 14 years (.770) while leading the Brewers to a franchise record-tying 96 victories and the third division crown in franchise history.

Video: Christian Yelich named National League MVP

3. The Sabathia swap
Brewers got from Indians: LHP CC Sabathia
Brewers gave up: OF Matt LaPorta, RHP Rob Bryson, LHP Zach Jackson and a player to be named (OF Michael Brantley)
Date: July 7, 2008

Long-term impact? No, but while Sabathia spent only three months in a Brewers uniform, he was the key to ending a postseason drought that had spanned nearly three decades. He went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 regular-season starts for Milwaukee with seven complete games, including one of the biggest victories in Brewers history over the Cubs in the 2008 finale that clinched the NL Wild Card. Sabathia's final three starts of the regular season and his start in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Phillies all came on three days' rest, representing a significant risk for a player on the verge of free agency. Then-GM Doug Melvin called it the most unselfish act he'd ever seen from a player. The Brewers tried to re-sign Sabathia that winter, but they lost out to the Yankees.

Video: Brewers clinch 2008 NL Wild Card

4. Coop to the Crew
Brewers got from Red Sox: 1B Cecil Cooper
Brewers gave up: 1B George Scott and OF Bernie Carbo
Date: Dec. 6, 1976

Scott was part of two significant Red Sox-Brewers trades. The second was this early-December swap that was not particularly popular at the time, but it netted the Brewers a seven-time All-Star and multiple Gold Glove Award winner in Cooper, who has the fourth-highest WAR in franchise history behind Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Ryan Braun. Cooper hit a career-high 32 home runs for the 1982 AL champs, but it was a go-ahead single in the seventh inning of the decisive Game 5 of the AL Championship Series that sent the Brewers to their first World Series.

Video: 1982 ALCS Gm5: Cecil Cooper raps clutch two-out hit

5. Dandy Don
Brewers got from Astros: RHP Don Sutton
Brewers gave up: Players to be named (OF Kevin Bass and LHPs Frank DiPino and Mike Madden) and cash
Date: Aug. 30, 1982

Bass turned into a good player for Houston, but Sutton was the final piece for the 1982 AL champs, going 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA in seven regular-season starts for the Brewers, including a titanic matchup against Jim Palmer in what became a blowout victory in the must-win season finale. Sutton made three more starts in the postseason, then pitched two more seasons for Milwaukee and logged his 3,000th career strikeout in a Brewers uniform on the way to 324 career victories and the Hall of Fame.

Video: MIL@BAL: Yount's two homers lift Brewers to AL East

6. The first blockbuster
Brewers got from Red Sox: 1B George Scott, RHP Jim Lonborg, LHP Ken Brett, OFs Billy Conigliaro and Joe Lahoud and C Don Pavletich
Brewers gave up: OF Tommy Harper, RHPs Lew Krausse and Marty Pattin and OF Patrick Skrable
Date: Oct. 10, 1971

A Gold Glover in each of his five seasons with Milwaukee, and an All-Star in 1975 when he led the AL with 36 home runs, 109 RBIs and 318 total bases, Scott was the Brewers' first long-term star. He was the best player on some bad teams but played a significant role in the Brewers' rise to competitiveness in the late '70s -- in part because the team sent him back to Boston for Cooper in '76.

7. The Pivot
Brewers got from Astros: LHP Josh Hader, RHP Adrian Houser, OFs Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana
Brewers gave up: OF Carlos Gomez and RHP Mike Fiers
Date: July 30, 2015

The Brewers had a deal in place to send Gomez to the Mets for young pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores the night before, but Flores shed tears while playing shortstop at Citi Field and New York pulled out of the trade for reasons debated for years afterward. That forced the Brewers, who were at the front end of a rebuild and seeking to maximize Gomez's value with a year and a half of club control remaining, to quickly find another trade partner. They found one in the ascendant Astros, who were putting the finishing touches on their first postseason team in a decade. All four prospects sent to Milwaukee in the swap would reach the Major Leagues by 2017, including Hader, who was the NL's reliever of the year in '18.

Video: Hader wins 2018 NL Reliever of the Year

8. Money Man
Brewers got from Phillies: IFs Don Money and John Vukovich and RHP Bill Champion
Brewers gave up: LHPs Ken Brett and Earl Stephenson and RHPs Jim Lonborg and Ken Sanders
Date: Oct. 31, 1972

The Phillies needed to make room for Mike Schmidt, so they sent Money to Milwaukee, where he would become a four-time All-Star, a record-setting defender at third base and one of the earliest pieces of the team that would win the pennant a decade later. Money played 11 seasons for the Brewers and retired in 1983 as their all-time leader in WAR, though the stat didn't exist at the time. Thirty-five years later, he still ranked sixth in franchise history.

9. The Greinke deal
Brewers got from Royals: RHP Zack Greinke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt
Brewers gave up: OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, RHPs Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi
Date: Dec. 19, 2010

The best trades are the ones that impact both teams for the better, and that was certainly the case here. For the Brewers, it was another "go for it" move for Melvin, who also dealt for Toronto's Shaun Marcum that month to give the Brewers, with Yovani Gallardo, Greinke and Marcum, three solid starters for the top of a rotation that also included veteran southpaw Randy Wolf. The offense was already one of baseball's most potent, and in 2011, Milwaukee set a franchise record with 96 wins before beating the D-backs in the NLDS for its first postseason series victory in 29 years. The Brewers made it to within two games of the World Series but fell to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, then flipped Greinke the following year to the Angels for a package of players that included shortstop Jean Segura, who in turn would be flipped to the D-backs for a package that included Diaz, who eventually would be one of the prospects traded to the Marlins for Yelich. While that chain of sequences was ongoing, the Royals gave Cain and Escobar time to develop into core players of Kansas City's World Series teams in 2014, when they lost to the Giants, and 2015, when they beat the Mets.

10. Brewers get Benji
Brewers got from Tigers: OF Ben Oglivie
Brewers gave up: RHP Jim Slaton and LHP Rich Folkers
Date: Dec. 9, 1977

If you can't beat him, get him on your team. That was essentially the story when the Brewers traded organizational mainstay Slaton for 29-year-old Oglivie, who had tormented Milwaukee pitchers while with the Tigers. He went on to play nine seasons with the Brewers, making three All-Star teams, twice hitting better than .300 and tying Reggie Jackson for the AL home run crown with 41 longballs in 1980. His arrival coincided with Milwaukee's rise to prominence, from 95 losses in 1977 to 93 wins in Oglivie's first season in '78, starting a five-year stretch in which the Brewers won at a .570 clip to tie the Yankees for the second-best mark in baseball behind the powerhouse Orioles.

Honorable mention: Welcome home, Henry
Brewers got from Braves: OF Hank Aaron
Brewers gave up: OF Dave May and a player to be named (RHP Roger Alexander)
Date: Nov. 2, 1974

It was a sentimental trade, sure. But with five unsuccessful seasons in the books, the Brewers were looking for a spark with their fans when they brought back Aaron, the former Milwaukee Braves star who moved with that franchise to Atlanta and became baseball's all-time home run king in 1974. He was 41 years old and not the five-tool player he once had been, but Aaron's return thrilled fans, more than 48,000 of whom filled County Stadium on a 37-degree afternoon for "Welcome home, Henry Day" on April 3, 1975. Aaron hit his final 22 home runs in a Brewers uniform, including No. 755 off California's Dick Drago on July 20, 1976. A plaque outside Miller Park marks the spot where that baseball landed.

Video: Brewers Retired Number: No. 44, Hank Aaron

Just missed the list
Jeromy Burnitz from the Indians for Kevin Seitzer in 1996; Richie Sexson, Paul Rigdon, Kane Davis and a player to be named (Marco Scutaro) from the Indians for Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard and Jason Bere in 2000; Lyle Overbay, Craig Counsell, Chris Capuano, Junior Spivey, Chad Moeller and Jorge De La Rosa from the D-backs for Sexson, Shane Nance and a player to be named (Noochie Varner) in 2003; Carlos Lee from the White Sox for Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and a player to be named (Travis Hinton) in 2004; Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Julian Cordero from the Rangers for Lee and Nelson Cruz in 2006; Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena from the Angels for Greinke in 2012; Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington and a player to be named (Yeison Coca) from the Red Sox for Tyler Thornburg in 2016.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Charles Brewer, Lorenzo Cain, Zack Greinke, Christian Yelich