And while the clubhouse was still absorbing the stunning departure of their All-Star closer on Tuesday, the Brewers were still remaking their bullpen at the Trade Deadline.
Following the additions of Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet in the Hader trade with the Padres on Monday and a subsequent deal for Rangers reliever Matt Bush, the Brewers on Tuesday traded with the Giants for rehabbing reliever Trevor Rosenthal. San Francisco got 22-year-old outfielder Tristan Peters, who ranked No. 19 among Brewers prospects per MLB Pipeline and was just promoted to Double-A Biloxi.
Rosenthal, a hard-throwing right-hander with closing experience, has not pitched in the Majors since 2020. He signed with San Francisco for a prorated $4.5 million plus incentives on July 21 but is on the injured list with a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to be fully healthy until late August.
“That would be our intent and our goal,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “Obviously, we could accelerate it before then. I know Trevor is motivated to get it a lot faster. Or it could be longer, clearly, if we have a setback. But that is the goal to get him back to the big leagues.”
Rosenthal missed 2021 after undergoing surgeries to correct thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn labrum in his right hip. He has a 3.36 ERA with 132 career saves over eight seasons with the Cardinals, Royals, Padres, Nationals and Tigers.
Barring another setback, he would join a Brewers bullpen that suddenly has a different look. Rogers and Williams will share closer duties to start. Bush figures to get high-leverage work, and Lamet will fit into the earlier innings with a chance to contribute big innings if the Brewers get him to his ceiling -- one which made him a National League Cy Young Award contender in 2020. Rosenthal, if he comes through healthy, would be another high-leverage option.
“I think David, Matt [Arnold, Milwaukee’s GM] and Mark [Attanasio, the team’s principal owner], they’ve done really well over the last five years and I think they’ve earned the trust of everybody in this room,” Yelich said. “They have the best interests of this team in mind.”
Said Woodruff: “We’re a first-place team, and we want to win the World Series. That’s why when I saw it, I didn’t quite believe it at first. But as I sat down and thought about it a little bit more, that part of the game is hard. I know decisions in the front office are hard things to do. Sometimes you may not understand it, but that’s just part of it. … Now it’s over with. We’re coming in today to try to win a baseball game.”
Williams chose his words delicately.
“[Hader] was a huge part of our success,” he said. “Having him in the ninth inning, just getting the ball to him was pretty much a sure thing most of the time. It was good to learn from him and have him to feed off of. I picked up a lot of things from him over the last couple of years. Having him back there was really big for me.”
When it was suggested that baseball can be a tough business, Williams said, “You could say that. A lot of things that don't really make sense. I don't know. I want to win. That's the biggest thing to me. I don't really have much to say about it.”
In the end, the Brewers added to the bullpen as many contenders do at the Deadline, but they didn’t add a bat. That wasn’t for lack of effort, said Stearns, who was in talks on hitters until Deadline’s close, including some who were traded and some who stayed put.
Among the candidates who weren’t traded were Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ, Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano.
Was Stearns surprised by some of those non-trades?
“I think so,” he said. “Everyone has, rightfully, a threshold they are going to set, and if they don’t get to that threshold, they’re going to hang on to it. I get that. It was a little surprising that some of the bats, some of the players in general, didn’t change hands, but that’s the way it went.”
Since the days of waiver trades in August are over, the Brewers’ answers the rest of the way will have to either come from within or via free agency and waivers. They think they have enough to contend for the World Series.
They also understand that trading away their best reliever is a unique way to get there.
“I don’t think we should shy away from anybody’s reaction to losing a really important player for the franchise, for losing a really good friend for a lot of people, for losing a great person,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That hurts. It doesn’t feel good. And I think when the game starts, you have a job to do. …
“We all want a World Series. The best way to get there, I think we should have learned over the years -- David Stearns is a pretty good guy to help us get there. He's done an incredible job, and you know he'll continue to do an incredible job. And this doesn't change the goal to win a World Series.”