Be honest, how many of you had that question when the Milwaukee Brewers announced the terms of the trade that landed all-star catcher William Contreras from the Atlanta Braves last month? Well, if you asked yourself that, you were not alone. Scouts from across the MLB landscape had the same query, mainly about how little the Brewers gave up to get him.
SCOUTS FEEL THE BREWERS GOT THE BETTER OF THE DEAL
To land Contreras, RHP Joel Payamps from the Oakland A’s, and RHP Justin Yeager from the Braves, the Brewers needed only to trade outfielder Esteury Ruiz, their 8th-ranked prospect with no proven track record in the major leagues. Not only that, Contreras is locked in contractually for five years. Adam McCalvy wrote on December 12: “In a three-team trade between Oakland, Atlanta, and Milwaukee, the Crew managed to flip one of the prospects they picked up from the Padres for Hader — speedy, slap-hitting outfielder Esteury Ruiz — for an All-Star catcher with five years of contractual control in William Contreras, plus two relief pitchers — one of the Major League variety and one a Minor Leaguer.”
Baseball scouts marveled at how GM Matt Arnold pulled this off. According to three talent evaluators:
“I’m very surprised,” said a top evaluator for one NL team. “[I] think they did really well.”
“Ruiz is a wild card,” said a scout for an AL team. “Could be a star or a complete flop. In the end, I think Ruiz will be a bench player.”
Said an NL scout: “[The Brewers] did well to get a quality young catcher to shore up a need. I don’t see Ruiz as an everyday type.”
One of Arnold’s top priorities headed into 2023 was to obtain help at catcher. Adam McCalvy commented on January 13 that “improving at catcher was a priority for Arnold and the Brewers, who were 22nd among MLB teams in OPS at catcher and 19th in overall offensive production from that position.”
Well, scouts and baseball evaluators across the major leagues believe that Arnold’s mission was accomplished.