Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is less than a week away. Beyond totally fucking up fantasy teams, exhausting the guy whose job it is to Photoshop a player wearing his new team’s cap, and making things somewhat interesting for fans who have long given up on their team making the playoffs this season, the flurry of trades helps contenders fill gaps in their roster. Trades also enable losing teams to dump unnecessary salary or to free a position for a prospect whose progress is halted by a veteran.
Whether a trade works out for the Milwaukee Brewers, seeing a name you recognize from elsewhere lent to the Brewers lineup for a period of a few months (or days) never gets old. In semi-recent team history, some Brewers trades (or post-deadline deals facilitated through waivers) have helped Milwaukee reach the playoffs. Other transactions helped the Crew advance in the postseason. Most of them didn’t work out at all, and look somewhat foolish and unnecessary in hindsight. As the MLB trade deadline looms and the Brewers will likely stay inactive between now and July 31, Milwaukee Record will take a look back on some of the team’s best, worst, and weirdest partial season rentals.
Julio Franco (1997)
Even those who followed the 23-season, 26-year career of ageless wonder Julio Franco could have missed the 42-game stint the journeyman slugger spent in a Brewers uniform. After he was released by the Cleveland Indians in mid-August, the Brewers snatched Franco up within hours—despite having a 57-60 record at the time. Already a 15-year pro, the veteran was primarily used as a designated hitter for the then-American League squad. The man designated to hit didn’t exactly fulfill his job requirements, tallying just 34 hits and a .241 average in 177 plate appearances. He did, however, draw 31 walks to boost his OBP to a more-than-respectable .373. Still, the Brewers would miss the postseason, and Franco would have just one Major League at-bat between 1998 and his 2001 Braves revival.
David Bell (2006)
Looking to spell Corey Koskie—who was an incredible fit before a freak concussion derailed his career—at third, the 48-54 Brewers sent minor league hurler Wilfredo Laureno to the Phillies for veteran infielder David Bell. The 33-year-old’s four home runs, 29 RBI and .256 AVG in 53 games didn’t prove to be the catalyst to break Milwaukee’s 24-season playoff drought. The Crew ended up 75-87. Then again, Laureno’s career ended that season after his 4.09 ERA in 22 innings in single-A signaled his end. Bell played his last professional game as a Brewer in 2006.
Scott Linebrink (2007)
When the Brewers traded the trio of Will Inman, Steve Garrison, and Joe Thatcher to the Padres for set-up man Scott Linebrink on July 25, Milwaukee had a 56-44 record and was well in contention. Following Linebrink’s arrival in the Brew City bullpen, Milwaukee went 27-35 to finish on the outside of Wild Card equation. Linebrink’s 3.55 ERA and13walks in 25.1 frames surely wasn’t the only factor in the Brewers’ failure, but his lack of dominance (which was undeniable from 2003-05), surely didn’t help matters.
Ray King (2007)
The waiver deal in early September of the 2007 campaign was the second time Milwaukee traded for the hefty lefty reliever. In his latest stint, King pitched in just 12 games and surrendered four earned runs in only six innings of work. Unlike the haul Milwaukee gave up for Linebrink, the loss of minor leaguer Andrew Lefave doesn’t exactly keep most Brewers fans up at night.
CC Sabathia (2008)
We all know how this one wound up. Love you, CC!
Ray Durham (2008)
The Sabathia deal wasn’t the only deadline-adjacent trade of Milwaukee’s fabled 2008 Wild Card season. Long-tenured White Sox, Athletics, and Giants second baseman Ray Durham was brought in June 20 to fill in for the injured Rickie Weeks. Durham’s final 41 games weren’t exactly his best, but his veteran leadership undoubtedly helped a young infield.
Felipe Lopez (2009 and 2011)
Felipe Lopez was a double-edged of a rental. The first time Milwaukee traded for him, Lopez hit .320 in 66 games, had an astounding .407 OBP, and played throughout the infield. When Doug Melvin traded for him again, the 2B/SS wasn’t worth the gamble. In spite of Lopez’s .182 average in just 16 games, Milwaukee won the NL Central and advanced to the NLCS.
Francisco Rodriguez (2011)
K-Rod is that kind of rental you move into because it makes sense in the short term. Then the price goes up, just when you’re ready to move on…but it’s almost like you have no choice to keep living there (because you don’t have a choice). You didn’t read the fine print, but whatever, the place is pretty good even if it’s expensive. Plus you tend to spend your most important moments in one of two cheaper Canadian cabins anyway. Eventually, one cabin implodes, the other needs repairs, and you’re happy you keep re-upping this expensive lease with an erratic landlord who you know beat up his father-in-law.
Jerry Hairston Jr. (2011)
Like Sabathia, Hairston’s contributions to the Brewers in a partial season will never be forgotten. The difference is Sabathia dominated until the playoffs, whereas the career utility player scuffled in 45 regular season games until Milwaukee needed him the most. When Casey McGehee’s bat vanished and the stakes grew higher, Hairston took over for McGehee at third in the playoffs and went a combined 17 for 47, including hitting .375 in the NLDS and .391 in the NLCS. He signed with Dodgers in 2012, and struggled until he retired after last season. If his estimated $22M career earnings ever run out, there are plenty of dudes at Milwaukee bars who will buy him drinks for years to come.
Livan Hernandez (2012)
The former Marlins, Expos, and Nationals ace finally called it a career in Milwaukee. Hernandez tossed just 36.1 of his 3,189 career innings in a Brewers uni. Those innings turned out to be some of his worst, as the mid-season free agent signee posted a pathetic 7.68 ERA (with 31 ER) in his final frames before calling it quits…or being told to call it quits.
Yorvit Torrealba (2012)
Aged catcher Yorvit Torrealba had a crazy 2012. He played 49 games with the Rangers before he was released. Toronto picked him up, then soon sent him to Milwaukee as part of a conditional deal after 10 more games. In the waning days of a lost, rudderless Brewers season, Torrealba caught sparingly for a Milwaukee team lacking Jonathan Lucroy (suitcase injury), George Kottaras (traded), and forced to use Martin Maldonado as its starting backstop. Yorvit went 0 for 5 with a walk, before ultimately returning to his longtime employer, Colorado Rockies, for his final season in 2013.