The Brewer’s 33 year old GM David Stearns may be the most important contract extension within the near future. After being hired in September of 2015 and taking over for Doug Melvin in October of that year, Stearns has done nothing but impress. Although his contract is not public, it would be a great idea to be proactive with his extended future in Milwaukee. He is very attractive to any team looking for a GM and the Brewers cannot risk losing him and must keep him committed to Milwaukee for the long term.
He took over for a team starting a rebuild, and accelerated the rebuild using blueprint parts from the Astros and Cubs. What was thought to be a five year rebuild by most, Stearns refused to put a time frame in place. Two years later in 2017 the Brewers were a team competing for the postseason going into the last weekend of the season.
Although this seems quick, steps were not skipped. Including moves from Doug Melvin, he traded away assets with limited long term value for young controllable talent with “up-side”. Guys like Kris Davis, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jonathan Lucroy were all traded for top prospects. In 2015, the team he inherited had a winning percentage of .420 going 68-94. Not quite three years into the process, the 2018 Brewers have a winning percentage of .590. However, Stearns’ brilliance goes far beyond a short rebuild and winning.
Since his first draft in 2016, Stearns has picked players that have had immediate impact within the Brewer farm system. Highlighting this group are Zack Brown RHP (drafted in 2016 currently in AA), Corbin Burnes RHP (drafted in 2016 currently in AAA), Corey Ray OF (drafted in 2016 currently in AA), and Keston Hiura 2B (drafted in 2017 currently in AA).
Both Brown and Burnes figure to be stalwarts within the starting line up while Ray and Hiura are slick defensive gems with offensive “swag”.
Stearns preaches having young controllable talent. Being able to stack the minors with draft picks and young talent from trades is key to this process.
Valuing the Undervalued
Stearns, and the team he assembled, has an incredible eye for finding talent – that “diamond in the rough” kind of talent. Look at the Brewer’s roster now, you would be surprised at the guys who were claimed off of waivers or were the player to be named later in a trade.
Starting catcher Manny Pina was the player to be named later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade. Power hitter Jesus Aguilar was picked up off of waivers. Junior Guerra was plucked from European baseball. Undervalued by Boston and Houston, Travis Shaw and Jonathan Villar are now solid staples in the Brewer’s arsenal.
Past Offseason Acquisitions
This may be one of the more obvious reasons, but to me there is more to it. Obviously, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain have been a huge part of our success this season. On January 25th, when the Brewers officially acquired both, many assumed there to be too many outfielders. However, this plays into what Stearns also talks about so much, quality depth. Without this quality depth, not only in the within outfield but within the pitching staff, it is reasonable to believe the Brewers would not be sporting one of the best records in baseball. Jhoulys Chacin, low name recognition compared to Cain and Yellich, has been the “steading force” within the starting rotation that was sorely needed. He for sure wasn’t the biggest free agent pitcher on the market, but he has proven to be better than some of the more highly toughted free agent pitchers.
All these points prove that David Stearns is so incredibly important to this team and deserves a contract extension. He has has found the “secret sauce” in building and maintaining a winning team in a lower revenue market. It is now necessary to compensate his talents with big market money. Sooner rather than later.