Have The Brewers Historically Traded Often In August?

Now that the trade deadline has passed, contending teams are gearing up for the stretch run in order to make their long-awaited playoff push. Non-contending teams, like the Brewers, will probably be calling up youngsters in an effort to give them a taste of the big leagues. Most transactions are also over — the deadline is typically when most major moves are completed during the season, but not all.

We’ve already seen the Astros acquire Oliver Perez from the Diamondbacks, the Blue Jays trade for Cliff Pennington, and the major transaction between the Braves and Indians. The Padres’ James Shields has also cleared waivers, which could put us in store for a late-season blockbuster, if the Padres can find a buyer. The Brewers, in their own right, have placed Kyle Lohse on revocable waivers.

This should also serve as a reminder that just because a team opted to not make trades at the deadline doesn’t mean that they won’t make moves in August or sometime in the offseason. The Brewers are one of those teams. While trading Carlo Gomez seemed to prove that the Brewers are ready to rebuild, they still have a lot of work to do. In order to fully exercise their rebuild, they will need to be active in the months to come. Putting Kyle Lohse on revocable waivers is another step in the right direction. If Lohse is claimed, the Brewers can eat a portion of his remaining salary and try to get something back, or simply let another team pay the remainder of his salary, around $3.55 million. Either way, getting rid of Lohse would only be trimming off the fat. The real pieces such as Adam Lind, Jean Segura, and Jonathan Lucroy will need to be shopped this winter.

Sean Dolinar of fangraphs displayed an interesting graphic showing that since 1996, most trades happen at the trade deadline. That being said, while the majority of teams may make their trades at the trade deadline, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t outliers that simply don’t find it’s a smart strategy to make trades at the deadline.

When do the Brewers make their trades?

The data was accumulated at baseball reference, which one should note, doesn’t include minor-leaguer-for-minor-leaguer trades in their database. For example, the trade of Shawn Zarraga to the Dodgers for Matt Long and Jarret Martin won’t be included in the following study. The trades are distributed by month, going back all the way to 1969. I also decided to split it up into three sections, in order to see the difference in how the Brewers made trades after the modern induction of the trade deadline. I also wanted to look at the Doug Melvin era, which is the reason for the final section. It’ll give us a better indication of how the team is presently going to operate. The rest of the methodology is the same as last week’s article.

Sheet 1-9

What stands out the most is how the trade deadline seems to have affected the way teams were trading. If you look at the overall data, the Brewers don’t usually make their trades in July. Most trades are made in December or June. Before 1986, the trade deadline happened on June 15th. This is probably why one sees that more trades occurred in June than July.

December 7th to 10th is the time of the winter meetings. Last year, baseball fans witnessed a flurry of trades happen during that time, and while the winter meetings aren’t always a source for a myriad of transactions, the Brewers are definitely active around that time, even if it’s not specifically during the meetings.

During the Doug Melvin era, more trades are happening in July than any other month. That being said, the second most active month is still December. This should bode well for those hoping the Brewers will remain in “sell mode” this winter. It also seems increasingly likely that even though Doug Melvin is in the final year of his contract, he may be back with the team next season. Whether, he comes back as the general manager is unclear, as it has been reported that Melvin is discussing moving into a new role with the organization. Either way, it appears that Melvin will be heavily involved in whatever the Brewers do this winter, which if one considers it’s recent history could prove to be yet another active offseason.

Finally, while compiling all of the monthly data, I was able to gather the year-to-year trends of trades.

Brewers trades 1969-2014

The first element that struck me was how often the Brewers traded in their early years. In their first year of existence, the Brewers made 26 trades, which ranks as the franchise’s most trades ever made in a single season.

There also seems to be a popular narrative that we are seeing more trades now than ever before. This may be true across the league, but then the Brewers are serious outliers, as the number of trades they’ve made is trending down. The Brewers were also an expansion team in 1969, which should be an explanation as to why they made so many trades. Again, a larger league-wide study of the situation needs to be done to make further conclusions, but as it stands now, it should be noted that the number of trades the Brewers are making is trending downward.

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