MILWAUKEE -- Domingo Santana found out about Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Caincoming to the Brewers when a notification appeared on his phone from MLB.com's At Bat app. Josh Hader found out via headset while playing the video game Fortnite with Brett Phillips and other friends. Travis Shaw got a text
MILWAUKEE -- Domingo Santana found out about Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Caincoming to the Brewers when a notification appeared on his phone from MLB.com's At Bat app. Josh Hader found out via headset while playing the video game Fortnite with Brett Phillips and other friends. Travis Shaw got a text message from Zach Davies, presumably before an excited Davies dropped and broke his phone.
It was a 1-2 punch of outfield additions that stirred Brewers fans and players alike, making for a high-energy Brewers On Deck on Sunday.
"We're all in," said left-hander Brent Suter. "It's incredibly exciting. I was doing an interview in Cincinnati when we [acquired] both of those guys. During the break he was like, 'Wait, you guys got Yelich. You guys got Cain.' He said my jaw was on the floor."
The plan that led to Thursday's blockbuster trade with the Marlins for Yelich and club-record-setting $80 million free-agent agreement with Cain was hatched back in October in Los Angeles. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio hosted general manager David Stearns and assistant general manager Matt Arnold to plot a course for the offseason with the team's 2017 performance fresh in the minds. In their second full season of a full-blown rebuild, the Brewers surprised even themselves by winning 86 games and finishing a game out of the National League Wild Card.
The question was whether it made sense to stay the course or shift to a more aggressive strategy.
"Not surprisingly, [Brewers manager] Craig Counsell was quietly pushing on this," Attanasio said. "We decided winning in 2018 was as important as to win in 2020. If you looked at what a typical rebuilding arc would be, 2020 would be a typical year that you thought everything would come together.
"With that, there was an intensive focus on free agents and on trades. David and his group have been absolutely tireless on it. So, what serendipity that both [came together] within two hours of each other."
Part of the plan, Attanasio said, was to target players who would be Brewers property for multiple years. Yelich and Cain fit that description, since Yelich is signed for the next four seasons with a club option for a fifth, and Cain inked a five-year deal.
And the Brewers may not be finished. Their current starting rotation features Chase Anderson, Davies and free agent pickup Jhoulys Chacin as locks, with Jimmy Nelson due back from right shoulder surgery sometime during the first half. Counsell said the current plan is to have a group of Brandon Woodruff, Suter, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson compete for the remaining starts.
But Attanasio said the Brewers have payroll flexibility to add one of the top starting pitchers who remain in free agency. He did not name a target, but the Brewers have been linked to top four available arms such as Jacob Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.
"If the right situation comes along, we can take advantage of that," Attanasio said.
If they do, it would prompt another round of reaction from the Brewers' incumbents.
"My excitement is through the roof," said Shaw. "Personally, going into the offseason, I know everybody has a wish list of guys that you wish that maybe you'll add. Yelich was at the top of my board. He's just an all-around player -- offensively, defensively, hits to all fields, plays every day. That's a great, great trade for us. "You see the front office -- I don't want to say push all in, but they believe in this team. They make those two moves and yeah, the expectations are definitely raised now."
Said Ryan Braun: "Without a doubt we're a much better baseball team than we were a week ago."
If there are more moves, Davies vowed to handle his smartphone more carefully.
"I know the fans are excited about it, and it's just the same for players," he said. "It's a pretty exciting time for the team and the fans. It just goes to show that we're ready. We're pretty excited that the front office believes in us that they're ready to make some moves and get us ready for the season."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.