MILWAUKEE -- Are the Brewers buyers, sellers or stuck somewhere in between as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches? The next two weeks will tell, president of baseball operations David Stearns said.
“We would like to be in a position to add to this team. That is our preference,” Stearns said. “And I anticipate that’s where we are going to be. We’re still in evaluative mode. We still have time. But certainly we would like to be in a position to add to the team where appropriate.”
In other words, the team will help make up his mind.
“Sure,” Stearns said.
This year’s lone Deadline -- two weeks from Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT -- represents a quandary for Stearns, who was clearly in one corner or the other in each of his first three Trade Deadlines as GM. In 2016, the Brewers were sellers, sending Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas for the package of prospects that helped land Christian Yelich a year and a half later. In ’17 and ’18, the Brewers were buyers, fortifying the bullpen both years, and also adding to the infield in ’18 with a good trade for Mike Moustakas and a regrettable trade for Jonathan Schoop.
This year, the Brewers looked like buyers again before running into a losing skid. Entering Tuesday, the Brewers had dropped eight of their last 10 games and 17 of their last 28 games.
“The record over the past month speaks for itself. We have not played good baseball,” Stearns said. “We are fortunate in many ways to be in the place in the standings where we are. And so now we have two and a half months to take advantage of this good fortune.
“The way I would look at the [Trade Deadline] is, adding is meant to complement a good team that has a chance to get to and advance in the playoffs. And certainly my belief that this team has the ability to get to that point. We have two weeks to the Deadline. We can learn a lot in two weeks. And it’s an important stretch for us. We’re going to be watching every day, and we’ll take it from there.”
Stearns took questions from reporters between telephone calls on Tuesday afternoon. But don’t expect a flurry of trades until closer to the Deadline.
“I would say there is substantial industry activity and discussion. I would also say that because there are so many teams bunched together, that some of the more notable activity may be likely to wait,” Stearns said. “I think everyone is still, for the most part, in discussion mode, and understanding the other teams’ interests and needs. And I think a lot of teams are still working through their [own] interests and needs.”
Manager Craig Counsell called that kind of angst “normal.”
“One step forward, two steps back is kind of what these games have all felt like,” Counsell said. “It’s normal. The way around this is just to make plays. That’s about performing. Pressing, not pressing, trying too hard, not trying too hard ... there’s not a formula for that. It’s not an objective thing. The best way to do it, to me, is to put forward a consistent effort. ... It hasn’t been an effort-level thing, for me. We just haven’t executed enough in this stretch, really.”