Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns did it again Tuesday, acquiring double-x sized first baseman Rowdy Tellez from Toronto. The ambitious Crew did have to give up a decent reliever (Trevor Richards) but took a swing at a big payoff on a low-risk, low-cost move.

This is the latest example of how Stearns has managed to take a small-market franchise with a modest $99.3 million payroll and drive it into first place ahead of the Cardinals ($163.6 million payroll, Cubs ($147.8 m) and Reds ($122.2 m.)

Stearns doesn’t wait. He doesn’t stew. He doesn’t procrastinate. He moves. He chases deals. He’s proactive. He’s on a constant mission to improve Milwaukee’s chances to win the NL Central and pursue a higher prize.

In May, the Brewers moved two relievers to Tampa Bay to acquire shortstop Willy Adames and the reliever, Richards. And Stearns just flipped Richard in the deal with Toronto. That’s Stearns. One step ileads to another.

In 42 games with the Brewers though Tuesday,  Adames is batting .298 with a .380 OBP and .550 slug (.930 OPS.) He’s slammed eight homers, 14 doubles and driven in 29 runs in 150 at-bats. Since Adames moved into the lineup the Brewers are 30-12 and have averaged 5.1 runs per game with a .730 OPS. And the colorful, energetic Adames has received wonderful reviews for enlivening a serious veteran-filled clubhouse.

Why go for Tellez?

Answer: why not go for Tellez?

The Brewers have a void at first base. With Keston Hiura crashing offensively — he’s batting .161 with a horrendous .554 OPS and 38% strikeout rate — Stearns wanted to take a shot at upgrading a terrible problem spot. Among the 30 MLB teams the Brewers are way down on the list for offensive impact at the first-base position: 28th in batting average (.204), 25th in slugging (.358) and 25th in OPS (.660.) Brewer first basemen have hit only 11 homers, an awful trade-off for their 29% strikeout rate.

The Brewers were using big man Daniel Vogelbach at first base, but he wasn’t exactly knocking down the ballpark walls with his .216 average and .386 slug. Plus, Vogie will be sidelined for a while with a strained hamstring.

May 25, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Rowdy Tellez (44) starts sliding into home plate in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Tellez, who bats left, has a .458 slugging percentage in 760 MLB plate appearances, all with the Blue Jays. Against RHP, he’s cranked a homer every 17 at-bats and slugged .461. He holds his own against LH pitching but doesn’t homer as frequently against them.

In the shortened 2020 season Tellez hit .283, slugged .520 and volleyed eight homers and 23 RBI in 35 games for Toronto. Coming into this season he had a career slugging rate of .488. With Vlad Guerrero Jr. relocated to first base this season, Tellez hadn’t done much for the Blue Jays. But the Rowdy power potential is real. He just needs to play.

“The need here is clear,” Stearns told the Milwaukee media on Tuesday. “The ability to add a left-handed hitter to our lineup, someone who has (minor-league) options remaining, that’s a unique opportunity at this time of year. So, we’re happy to be able to do it.”

What’s this?

A president of baseball operations and his GM are actually allowed to make trades well in advance of the July 30 MLB deadline to improve their team? Wow. When did that federal law change? Covering baseball in St. Louis, I had just assumed that it was some sort of crime to aggressively make trades during a season, before the deadline. I just thought it was a crime to make any in-season trades at all.

Maybe in St. Louis.

But not in Milwaukee.

“We explored a number of different options, a number of different players,” Stearns said. “We’re not quite yet at the point where a ton of teams are ready to trade. We have the draft in the middle of this and a lot of teams are focused on the draft. We also have a lot of teams that are still determining what their best course of action is. We’re certainly pleased we were able to find a match and add to the ball club.”

It’s permissible to make an in-season trade without giving up a coveted prospect?

Will someone please let the Cardinals know about this?

Thank you for reading…


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Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.