If the history of Doug Melvin’s tenure as general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers leaves any indication, the odds of a trade happening before Thursday’s non-waiver deadline are high.
Melvin has made a July trade in nine of his 11 seasons with the Brewers, including seven of the last eight years. Some have been minor and a couple have been minor, but Melvin usually does something no matter if Milwaukee is a seller or a buyer.
The Brewers were buried in the cellar and on their way to a 94-loss season when Melvin made his first July trade as Milwaukee’s general manager in 2003. Melvin sent reliever Curtis Leskanic, a free agent after the season, to the Kansas City Royals for outfield prospect Alejandro Machado and 26-year-old right-hander Wes Obermueller.
Obermueller pitched in 60 games for the Brewers over three seasons with a 5.47 ERA, while Machado never appeared in the big leagues for Milwaukee before being traded to Montreal in 2004.
Just 6 1/2 games out of the wild card on July 26, 2004, Melvin took a chance and added the powerful bat of Russell Branyan to the roster, sending cash to Cleveland for the first baseman. The Brewers eventually fell way out of the race, but Branyan hit 23 home runs over 136 games in his first stint with Milwaukee before he was released in January of 2006.
Melvin did not make a July trade in 2005, as his lone move of the summer came in June when he sent second baseman Junior Spivey to Washington for right-hander Tomo Ohka. Spivey was expendable with Rickie Weeks emerging, while Ohka ended up making 20 starts with a 4.35 ERA in 2005 and 18 starts in 2006.
July was a very busy month for Melvin and the Brewers in 2006. His first move came on July 25 when he sent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to Kansas City for infielder Tony Graffanino. A late bloomer, De La Rosa had an 8.30 ERA with the Brewers in 2006 and didn’t post his first sub-5.00 ERA season until 2008. He’s battled injuries to become a steady member of Colorado’s rotation and could be traded again in the coming days.
Graffanino was acquired to play second base after Weeks was lost for the season with a wrist injury. He hit .280 in 60 games with the Brewers in 2006 and was hitting .237 with nine home runs in 2007 when he tore his ACL and was lost for the season.
Melvin made two trades on July 28, 2006, first sending minor-league pitcher Wilfrido Laureano to Philadelphia for third baseman David Bell. Milwaukee lost starting third baseman Corey Koskie to a severe concussion, and the veteran Bell hit .256 with four homers in 53 games with the Brewers.
The second move that day was a big one. A free agent after the 2006 season, Carlos Lee was shipped to Texas with then minor-league outfielder Nelson Cruz for closer Francisco Cordero, outfielder Kevin Mench, outfielder Laynce Nix and minor-league left-hander Julian Cordero.
Lee was unlikely to re-sign with the Brewers, but the trade tilted in the favor of the Rangers after Cruz bloomed into an All-Star in 2009.
In first place on July 1, 2007, Melvin made a series of trades, starting with sending reliever Jose Capellan to Detroit for minor-league left-hander Chris Cody.
Melvin made a couple of moves to bolster his bullpen later in the month, acquiring Scott Linebrink from San Diego for minor-league pitchers Will Inman, Joe Thatcher and Steve Garrison. Linebrink had a 3.55 ERA in 27 games for the Brewers, while Thatcher has become a left-handed specialist in the big leagues.
Three days later, Melvin shipped struggling reliever Grant Balfour to Tampa Bay for right-hander Seth McClung, who ended up pitching in 92 games with the Brewers from 2007-09.
In third place at the time but nine games over .500, Melvin made one of the biggest trades in franchise history on July 7, 2008. The Brewers stunned everyone in baseball by acquiring left-hander C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland for top prospect Matt LaPorta, pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson and a player to be named, eventually outfielder Michael Brantley.
Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and tossed seven complete games in 17 starts to carry the Brewers to their first postseason berth in 26 years. He signed with the Yankees following the season, but his impact on the franchise was gigantic.
LaPorta flamed out and never became an impact player in the big leagues, but Brantley made his first All-Star team for the Indians this season.
Still in the division race in July of 2009, the Brewers made a pair of minor deals. After Weeks went down with a wrist injury, Melvin first sent minor leaguers Roque Mercedes and Cole Gillespie to Arizona for second baseman Felipe Lopez, who hit .320 in 66 games with Milwaukee.
The Brewers then acquired reliever Claudio Vargas on July 31, 2009, sending utility man and Wisconsin native Vinny Rottino to the Dodgers.
Melvin made no July trades in 2010, but he did ship outfielder Jim Edmonds to Cincinnati in August after the Brewers fell out of the race.
To bolster a team that would go on to win the National League Central in 2011, Melvin made two big acquisitions in July. During the All-Star break, Milwaukee acquired reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets for two players to be named later.
Rodriguez posted a 1.86 ERA as John Axford’s set-up man in 31 games, while the players to be named later (Daniel Ray Herrera and Adrian Rosario) didn’t turn into much.
On July 30, 2011, Melvin made an under-the-radar move that turned into a big one, nabbing utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. from Washington for minor-league outfielder Erik Komatsu. Hairston hit .274 win 45 games with the Brewers and allowed manager Ron Roenicke to give his starters an occasional day off and keep a solid bat in the lineup.
Hairston ended up starting at third base for the Brewers in the postseason, hitting .385 with seven RBI in 11 playoff games.
After making moves as a buyer in 2011, Melvin was a seller in 2012. Knowing they were going to lose their star right-hander in free agency after the season, the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels on July 27.
The Brewers received shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena in return. Segura has taken over as Milwaukee’s starting shortstop and made the All-Star team in 2013, while Hellweg was the franchise’s minor-league pitcher of the year last season.
Hellweg has missed most of the 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery, while Pena is in the rotation for Triple-A Nashville. The Angels didn’t make the postseason with Greinke, and he bolted to the Dodgers in the offseason.
One day after trading Greinke, Melvin traded backup catcher George Kottaras to Oakland for minor-league pitcher Fautino De Los Santos.
Again sellers last season, the Brewers shipped Rodriguez to Baltimore for third-base prospect Nicky Delmonico on July 23, 2013. In August of 2013, Melvin traded Axford to St. Louis for minor-league right-hander Michael Blazek.
While none of this means the Brewers will definitely make a move before the 3 p.m. CT deadline Thursday, history suggests the odds of something getting done are high.