NEW YORK — Brewers general manager David Stearns addressed a need by trading with a fellow contender for the second time in less than seven weeks.
The National League Central-leading Brewers added a power-hitting first baseman, acquiring left-handed hitting Rowdy Tellez from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday for right-handed pitchers Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis.
Tellez, 26, had been with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo affiliate after struggling in the majors this season with a .209 batting average, four homers and eight RBIs in 50 games. He hit 21 homers for Toronto in 2019 and had an .886 OPS in 35 games last season.
Tellez was expected to be in uniform for Wednesday’s series finale against the New York Mets.
“This is a player who has consistently put the bat on the ball and he’s consistently hit the ball hard – those are two pretty good attributes for major league hitters,” Stearns said. “He has a long track record of success in the minor leagues. He got off to a little bit of a slow start this year at the major league level. We think the underlying ingredients are pretty sound. We think he should be able to perform at the major league level. He’s going to get a shot.”
The Brewers needed some help at first base. Daniel Vogelbach on the injured list due to a strained left hamstring and isn’t expected to return until August.
Keston Hiura, who opened the season as the Brewers’ starting first baseman, is batting .161 and already has been sent to the minors twice this season. Hiura showed signs of progress during the Brewers’ recent 11-game winning streak, but he has gone 0 for 7 with six strikeouts over his last two games.
Stearns said the search for a Vogelbach replacement was complicated by the calendar. Teams are preparing for the amateur draft, which starts Sunday, while trying to figure out if they are contenders ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.
“We explored a number of different options, a number of different players,” Stearns said. “We’re certainly pleased we were able to find a match.”
Richards, 28, is changing teams for the second time this season. The Brewers acquired him along with shortstop Willy Adames in a May 21 trade that sent relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to the Tampa Bay Rays.
While Adames has become a middle-of-the-order staple for the Brewers with a .298 average, eight homers and 29 RBIs, Richards went 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA in 15 games with Milwaukee. He will help out in the bullpen for the Blue Jays, who entered Tuesday four games out of the AL’s second wild card spot.
“You can pitch him in some big spots,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He got out of some jams for us. He did a really nice job.”
Francis, 25, is 7-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Nashville this season.