On July 7th, 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers traded LHP Zach Jackson, RHP Rob Bryson, a player to be named later (OF Michael Brantley) and top first base prospect Matt LaPorta to Cleveland. In exchange Milwaukee received reigning Cy Young winner CC Sabathia. LaPorta was rated the 23rd best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in 2008 after being drafted 7th overall by Milwaukee in 2007. Brewer fans at the time were skeptical about making this deal due to the potential of Matt LaPorta. The plan was to have LaPorta replace Fielder when Fielder’s contract was up. With that it’s obvious Milwaukee was taking a huge risk here.
Bryson never found his way to the Major leagues but continues to play in independent leagues. Jackson played in a total of 22 MLB games between Milwaukee and Cleveland posting a 5.81 ERA. Matt LaPorta never turned out to be the player he was anticipated to be. He played in 291 MLB games over four seasons and batted a career average of .238. He had 31 career Homeruns and 120 RBI’s. Michael Brantley, the player to be named later, has gone on to be an excellent player for Cleveland. He spent last season injured and missed out on the Indians World Series run. He finished 3rd in AL MVP voting in 2014 and was an All-Star that season posting a .327 batting average hitting 20 Homeruns and driving in 97. Those stats were good enough to earn him a Silver Slugger award. He also stole 23 bases that season. He is a career .292 hitter and has 918 career hits while only being 29 years old.
Now what did Sabathia do for Milwaukee? Sabathia posted a 11-2 record in 17 games for Milwaukee with a 1.65 ERA and a WHIP at 1.00. He struck out 128 batters in 130 innings and even hit 2 Homers. He made two starts on two days rest in order for Milwaukee to clinch the wild card spot. He put his health on the line in order to drag them to their first playoff birth since 1982. Unfortunately he faltered in his one playoff game against Philadelphia allowing 5 earned runs in 3.2 innings. That would be his only shot as the Brewers were eliminated in four games by the team who would go on to win the World Series.
So who wins the trade? The big fish of the trade being Matt LaPorta didn’t pan out for Cleveland but found gold in 7th round pick Michael Brantley. Milwaukee witnessed one of the greatest pitching performances in franchise history and saw the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Sure it could have been Sabathia playing for a contract (which he would get from the Yankees that winter) but he worked his tail off for the city of Milwaukee and did more than what anyone could have asked for.
On May 12th, 2014 Sabathia returned to Milwaukee for the first time since 2008 as a member of the Yankees and was welcomed with a loud ovation from Brewer fans. Six years later people still don’t forget how fantastic CC was for Milwaukee in the short time he was here. The Brewers traded four high end prospects for a guy who played 17 games for them and they should not look back for even a second because of how much it paid off.