In the offseason that followed, David Stearns -- who, I am reminded, was three years away from being born when the Brewers went to the World Series -- started trading off everything and anything he could. Jean Segura was one of the casualties, and his trade out of Milwaukee led me to discontinue his PC. It felt like a personal failure.
Today's trades, though, were much more inevitable.
Lucroy received his current contract on the heels of his 2010 rookie season, signing a five-year, $11 million extension with a $5.25 million club option for 2017 before the 2011 season. Lucroy had hit well at every stop on his way up to the major leagues, except for his short 21-game stay in Triple-A in 2010. The team wanted to build around the young catcher.
Lucroy liked Milwaukee too. While he was born and raised in the Orlando area, Lucroy went to college at Louisiana-Lafayette and really felt at home with the smaller-city feel. After the 2014 season, Lucroy's agent approached the team to try to work out a new contract extension -- a deal that would have made him a Brewer "for the rest of (his) career." Rather than jump at the opportunity to sign the 28-year-old to a second extension, however, the team instead was lukewarm at best about the idea.
Early in the 2015 season, the Brewers looked almost prescient. Lucroy started off terribly -- 6 hits in his first 51 plate appearances -- and then he hit the DL after he took a ball off his foot and broke his toe. As things fell apart for him hitting-wise last year thanks to injuries and, then, the team fell apart, he starting expressing his displeasure with the situation.
In 2015, he appeared on a Milwaukee radio show and criticized the organization greatly for its failure to make impact picks in the first round of drafts since 2005. In fairness, he had a point -- starting in 2005 (Ryan Braun), the team's first round picks either were traded away -- Matt LaPorta, Jake Odorizzi, and Brett Lawrie -- or made little to no impact in the major leagues. Indeed, only two more players of the 19 the team had selected in the first round to that point (Jeremy Jeffress and Taylor Jungmann) have made the major leagues.
Lucroy also made another good point: he just wanted to play for a winning team, whether in Milwaukee or elsewhere. Over this past winter -- after it was made clear as to the team's direction -- Lucroy again did not demand a trade but he made his position clear: "I want to win and I don't see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That's what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy."
David Stearns held out for a lot. He viewed Lucroy as one of his top trade chits -- rightfully so with his contract being what it is. In the end, the haul for Lucroy was good and the machinations of having made a trade with Cleveland, having Lucroy veto it, and then turning around and making another trade in a package with a pitcher with a Texas-based team sounds a lot like the PC guy who headed out of town in July of 2015.
In return for Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress from Texas, the Brewers will be getting a player to be named later -- an intriguing fact since PTBNL might very well mean "guy drafted in 2016." We'll see, but that player will likely be icing on the cake. The main player the Brewers received was #21 overall prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) Lewis Brinson. Brinson is 22 and has been working on his batting eye and approach. He is a speed-power prospect -- a legitimate 30/30 threat -- and he is learning how to play centerfield.
The other prospect the Brewers received from the Rangers was pitcher Luis Ortiz. He's on the DL right now with a strained groin, but he's a 20-year-old in Double-A. He can use the time off. MLB Pipeline ranks him the #63 prospect overall and says that he has the stuff already to profile as a possible #2 starter (with the usual asterisk regarding staying healthy).
The Brewers also traded the Fresh Prince, Will Smith, to the Giants just days after hundreds of Brewers fans bought 90s throwback Will Smith shirts. As a result of that trade, the Brewers picked up yet another top #100 prospect -- Giants 2015 First Round pick Phil Bickford. Bickford was drafted in the first round twice -- first by Toronto in 2013 out of high school and then in 2015 by the Giants. The report on Bickford is that he has electric stuff -- 98 MPH fastball in particular -- but that he has trouble with repeating his arm slot and can lapse into overthrowing.
In the end, as much as I could hope against hope that the Brewers would take a right turn and announce a contract extension, I know that this is the right move for the team. Lucroy deserves the opportunity to win and to go to a team in a location that he had approved contractually through his limited no-trade clause.
I'll keep collecting Lucroy's cards from his time with the Brewers as a player collection, just as I did for Carlos Gomez and Yovani Gallardo and Rickie Weeks. I hope, though, that Lucroy wins and wins a lot now.
And who knows -- maybe David Stearns can find a taker for that last guy on the team that is an active PC for me? Perhaps the Marlins will come calling for a hometown guy with a longer contract that looks decent right now so that they can plug him in at first base. All we need is, say, Braxton Garrett. I mean -- isn't that a win-win for everyone?
I think it would be.