After flurry of moves, next step is developing talent

Stearns made 17 trades, 10 waiver claims in 1st year as GM

After flurry of moves, next step is developing talent

MILWAUKEE -- As Brewers GM David Stearns tied a bow on the 2016 season at Miller Park on Tuesday, it marked the end of his first full year on the job. Those 366 days -- it was a leap year -- saw Stearns make 17 trades, 10 waiver claims, two Major League free-agent signings and two Rule 5 Draft picks. He also signed six Minor League free agents who saw time in the Majors in 2016.

That pace figures to slow as the franchise moves on to the next phase of rebuilding, Stearns said.

"I certainly think the amount of transactions and the number of player moves we've had over the past 12 months was a lot, and probably unprecedented in baseball over the past 12 months," he said. "So expecting a replication of that amount of player movement, I think would be unreasonable.

"We have added to the amount of young talent we have throughout the organization, both at the Major League and Minor League level. Part of our next step is to continue to develop that young talent and let it play. I am sure we will make moves. I'm sure there are going to be opportunities that, in our estimation, allow our organization to get better. But I would be surprised at this point if it went to the extent that we've seen over the past 12 months."

That prediction is bolstered by the fact the Brewers have only two departing free agents (Chris Capuano and Blaine Boyer). They have eight arbitration eligible players: Chase Anderson (as a Super 2 player), Chris Carter, Scooter Gennett, Martin Maldonado, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg and Carlos Torres.

The Brewers anticipate re-signing Carter after he tied for the National League lead with 41 home runs, Stearns said, and Jonathan Villar is expected back atop the lineup, though it is yet to be determined whether he will man second base or third. That will be decided in part by other roster moves.

Arenado, Carter's 41st home runs

The most significant unknown for the Brewers entering the offseason is the future of left fielder Ryan Braun, who was nearly traded to the Dodgers in August.

Asked to handicap whether the Brewers would move Braun this winter, Stearns said, "I don't know. At this point, we're going to entertain calls that come on any player. We have good players, and players that had years like Ryan had, I would imagine we're going to get some calls. But we'll see what happens over the course of the offseason. It's certainly too early for me to speculate on something like that."

As for the year in review, do the Brewers see it as a success?

"It's successful in that we accomplished some goals that we set out to accomplish in exploring young players, in developing young players, in developing a culture of competition, of effort every single day that allows players to kind of reach their potential and reach their abilities," manager Craig Counsell said. "But at the end of the day, we're in the winning-games business, so I'm not going to walk away completely satisfied when we have 73 wins. I'm going to walk away knowing that we have a lot of work to do, and we have a lot of areas that we can get better at."

Said Stearns: "I don't think you're going to see Craig or I up here telling you we had a successful season until we're in the playoffs. That's a successful season. And that's what we're aiming for, and we'll be aiming for more than that."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.