MILWAUKEE -- By the time the Brewers took the field for batting practice Friday, the MLB Trade Deadline was already less than a week away.
This year’s Deadline is at 3 p.m. CT on July 30, a day earlier than the traditional July 31 date to avoid falling on a weekend and conflicting with afternoon games in progress. Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns could go any manner of directions; the team has a clear need for relief pitching after parting with J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to land shortstop Willy Adames from the Rays, then flipping the other player acquired in that deal, righty reliever Trevor Richards, to the Blue Jays for Rowdy Tellez. But Milwaukee also continues to look to improve an offense that entered Friday 16th of 30 Major League teams at 4.38 runs per game and tied for 22nd at 89 weighted runs created plus (wRC+).
Stearns has not waited for the Deadline to start dealing. He’s already made five in-season trades for players who have appeared in the Majors -- Adames, Tellez, reliever Patrick Weigel from the Braves in the Orlando Arcia deal and relievers Hunter Strickland and Jandel Gustave in Minor League deals with the Angels and Pirates, respectively.
Stearns chatted with MLB.com about the looming Trade Deadline on Friday as the Brewers began a series packed with strong starting pitching against the White Sox at American Family Field.
What's your view of the landscape with a week to go?
Stearns: “It's very similar to past years. It does feel back to normal. There's ample industry discussion, ample exchanging of ideas and concepts. And as with most Deadline seasons, I suspect the vast majority of deals will get done in a few days leading up to the Deadline.”
Because you already made two pretty significant deals, what’s your general stance at this time?
Stearns: “I think we'd like to improve the team. That's always our stance when we're going into a Deadline with a team that we think is a playoff-caliber team and can potentially make a run in the playoffs. That's certainly true this year. That's our goal. We'll see what happens over the next week. But certainly, we're aiming to be able to improve the team.”
When you think about ways to improve the team, would you say the priority is more on the hitting side or the pitching side?
Stearns: “I actually think we can do either. And I think we have places to improve the team in all aspects. I don't think any segment of our team is perfect right now -- that's not a knock in any way against our current group. Our current [team] has performed exceptionally well and we are in first place for a reason. But there are ways we can improve each segment of our team.”
You've subtracted relievers, notably, to help the offense. Is replenishing relief high on your list of priorities?
Stearns: “I'm still aware that we're kind of right at the precipice of our depth from a relief pitching perspective. That depth is being tested right now with some injuries. So that's clearly an area where we're going to pay some attention.”
As you ponder offensive additions, how complicating a factor is it that Travis Shaw and Daniel Vogelbach are just getting ready to go out and play on rehab assignments?
Stearns: “We're working on the assumption that both of those guys will be available in mid-August. Look, if we can get two left-handed bats going, that's going to help our lineup.”
Are you willing to go for a "big name" player? You haven't always done that.
Stearns: “We did it with [Christian] Yelich. We did it at the Deadline with Mike Moustakas [in 2018]. We were heavily involved with Manny Machado a couple of years ago as well. We're generally involved in everything, that's kind of how we operate. We want to understand what is available that can help us, and then we do our best to match up potential impacts with appropriate acquisition costs.”