The 2015 season was one to forget for Milwaukee fans, as the Brewers finished 68-94, just one year removed from an 80-win season. The prior offseason saw many players leave the club, before and during the season. Starter Marco Estrada was dealt to the Blue Jays in November 2014 for first baseman Adam Lind. Lind was pretty good for the Brewers, but Estrada ended up tossing over 180 innings with an ERA of 3.13 for the Jays (after never besting 150.2 IP or a 3.64 ERA while in Milwaukee), while the Milwaukee rotation floundered its way to a 4.79 combined ERA. In January 2015, the Brewers again dealt away valuable pitching, sending longtime Brewer Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers in exchange for 18-year-old pitcher Marcos Diplan, 23-year-old reliever Corey Knebel, and 21-year-old infielder Luis Sardinas. Gallardo, like Estrada, outperformed expectations with his new club, posting a 3.42 ERA in 184.1 innings.
The selling subsided for a while until July, when the then 42-54 Brewers shipped third baseman Aramis Ramirez to Pittsburgh for 23-year-old Yhonathan Berrios who managed a 2.83 ERA in 60.1 minor-league innings before being called up and tossing 6.2 shutout frames for the Brew Crew. A week later, the Brewers made a flurry of moves near the trade deadline, shipping away their best remaining starter in Mike Fiers and energetic outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Astros, and quietly productive outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Orioles. Reliever Jonathan Broxton was also sent packing to St. Louis in return for a minor prospect.
The biggest return piece from the Houston deal was outfield prospect Brett Phillips, who becomes the #2 prospect in the Brewers’ system for 2016. Milwaukee received young starter Zach Davies in return for Parra, and he posted a modest 3.71 ERA in six starts down the stretch for the big-league club. Davies does not have overwhelming stuff, but commands all of his pitches well. His changeup was one of the best in the minors. Rounding out the in-season departures was Neal Cotts, with the middling reliever sent to Minnesota for a player to be named later (or cash).
With the outlook for 2016 not looking much better, new Brewers GM David Stearns’ plan this offseason was conservative to say the least. They made a few interesting additions, but major players were picked up, and a few more were shipped away. Recently, All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy insinuated he thinks a trade would be best for the team and himself, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Trade speculations have also been flying around longtime star outfielder Ryan Braun after a resurgent 2015 in which he made the All-Star team for the first time since 2012 (after making it five straight years from ’08-’12). So far, neither player has been moved, but the rumors and speculation are sure to continue circulating until the team voices its intentions.