Brewers Notes: Stearns, Deadline, Rosenthal

The contractual status of Brewers’ president of baseball operations David Stearns continues to be shrouded in mystery. It was once believed that 2022 was the final year of his contract, until it was reported in October of last year that Milwaukee had some sort of option over Stearns for 2023. In February, it emerged that Stearns was actually under contract for 2023 but could opt out of the deal if the Brewers reached the World Series in 2022. That was followed by a report in May from Jon Heyman of the New York Post that it was “believed” Stearns could actually opt out if Milwaukee reached the NLCS.

In another piece from Heyman in recent days, he hedges that a bit, saying that it’s “unconfirmed” whether the Brew Crew need to reach the NLCS or the World Series. Of course, the reason that all this is so newsworthy is that the Mets have been trying to pluck the New York native from Milwaukee for essentially the past year. The Brewers denied their request to interview him this winter, given the two years that were then remaining on his contract. The Mets eventually hired Billy Eppler to serve as general manager, but could theoretically still hire Stearns in the future as well, perhaps with the president of baseball operations title he currently holds in Milwaukee. Stearns would no doubt be intrigued by moving to New York, not just because he’s from there. The Mets also have significantly higher spending power, running out a $264MM Opening Day payroll this year, doubling the $132MM number of the Brewers.

Of course, those budgetary concerns were the primary motivator of the recent Josh Hader trade. As noted in the above report from Heyman, the club then tried to compensate for Hader’s loss by boosting the lineup. They apparently tried to acquire Brandon Drury and Josh Bell, losing the bidding to the Padres in both cases. They also targeted Joc Pederson, though the Giants decided against a major selloff and didn’t end up trading him. Joey Gallo was also considered, though he ended up going to the Dodgers instead. Perhaps due to the their lackluster deadline or perhaps coincidentally, the club has gone 4-7 this month, letting the NL Central lead slip to the Cardinals, with the Brewers now 1 1/2 games back.

As for the club’s Hader-less bullpen, Stearns acquired other pitchers to try and make up that loss, with one of those being Trevor Rosenthal. The righty has previously been one of the best relievers in the sport, but injuries have limited him to less than 40 total innings since the end of the 2018 campaign. He was signed by the Giants a couple of weeks before the deadline this year and immediately placed on the injured list due to a hamstring issue. The Brewers picked him up at the deadline in a high-risk move that would potentially have a high reward if Rosenthal could return to his previous form. We are on the verge of finding out whether it pays off or not, as Rosenthal told reporters, including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that he’s going on a rehab assignment this week. He also added that he recently touched 98 mph in a workout. His most recent action was in the shortened 2020 season, when he threw 23 2/3 innings with a 1.90 ERA along with an incredible 41.8% strikeout rate. If he can get anywhere close to that level here this year, he’ll give the Brewers a much-needed boost down the stretch.

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