Brewers likely to explore more deals at Meetings
Stearns expected to continue rebuilding process when GMs gather next week
MILWAUKEE -- He won't go quite as far as then-White Sox executive Roland Hemond, who famously set up shop in the lobby at the 1975 Winter Meetings with a sign declaring, "Open for business." But Brewers general manager David Stearns will be just that when Major League Baseball's power brokers gather in Nashville next week.
First baseman Adam Lind and shortstop Jean Segura are among the notable Milwaukee players known to be on the trading block as Stearns heads into his first Winter Meetings as a GM, though the 30-year-old Brewers boss has spoken only in vague terms about having active talks on a variety of fronts with multiple teams.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 10 a.m. CT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.
Stearns has already pulled off three trades this offseason. The most notable sent closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers for prospects, making the first tangible evidence that Stearns intends to continue the rebuilding course set by predecessor Doug Melvin.
"We've been open to discussing any number of players," Stearns said. "We went into this offseason with an open-minded approach. There have been a number of teams expressing interest in certain players. Our philosophy is we should explore all opportunities, and where we see good return, we're going to execute."
So the question is not whether Stearns will make more trades, it's how many. In the past 11 months under Melvin and then Stearns, the Brewers have dealt away Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers, Gerardo Parra, Jonathan Broxton, Neal Cotts and Rodriguez. With the exception of the Cotts trade (for a player to be named or cash, still pending), the Brewers received prospects in return.
Stearns then made two more minor deals that fit into the depth category, sending Minor League pitcher Cy Sneed to the Astros for infielder Jonathan Villar, and infielder Luis Sardinas to the Mariners for outfielder Ramon Flores. Both Villar and Flores, who are in their pre-arbitration years, are projected to make Milwaukee's 2016 Opening Day roster.
More swaps of established players for prospects are likely. After fielding offers for Lind last summer but finding no offers to their liking, the Brewers exercised Lind's $8 million option for 2016. That's an affordable price for a left-handed hitter coming off a 20-homer season, and the odds are that Lind will not be in a Brewers uniform come Opening Day.
Segura, meanwhile, is expendable because the Brewers are stocked with young shortstops, even in the wake of trading Sardinas. Top prospect Orlando Arcia probably won't be under consideration for a promotion to the Majors until late May due to service time considerations, but he hit and fielded at an elite level in 2015. Yadiel Rivera also had a solid 2015 campaign, including seven games with the Brewers.
Other players potentially available include reliever Will Smith, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, second baseman Scooter Gennett and outfielders Khris Davis and -- if the Brewers can find a taker for his salary -- Ryan Braun.
Stearns, though, has said he does not face an edict to further shed payroll.
"When I signed the contract, the goal was to be here," said Braun, who is entering a five-year, $105 million extension that he signed in 2011. "That's still my intention. I haven't heard anything different, so until I hear something different, the expectation is the same as it's always been."
In a visit to Milwaukee just before Thanksgiving, Braun expressed confidence that Stearns & Co. were "doing what's in our best interests long-term."
"I've had some really good conversations with David," Braun said. "I think he's incredibly intelligent. He really gets it. He asks the right questions. I think he's going to do everything in his power to get us back to where we all want to be as soon as possible, but it's impossible to put a timeframe on it. It completely depends on development, so if we have as much good young pitching as we've had since I've been here, there's reasons for optimism. It just depends on how the development process goes."