MILWAUKEE—No one can accuse the Brewers of being afraid to trade first-round draft picks.
In July 2008, the Brewers traded outfielder/first baseman Matt LaPorta, their first-rounder in '07, to the Indians in the deal that brought C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee. The Brewers had no regrets about paying that price when Sabathia almost single-handedly led them to their first playoff berth in 26 years.
On the eve of baseball's Winter Meetings, the Brewers struck again, trading second-base prospect Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays for righthander Shaun Marcum. Lawrie was the Brewers' first-round pick out of British Columbia in the 2008 draft.
"It was a steep price but it's something we felt we had to do," general manager Doug Melvin said. "We still feel we have a very talented team that can compete in our division and get to the postseason again."
Lawrie, 20, held his own as one of the youngest players in the Double-A Southern League in 2010. In 135 games for Huntsville, he batted .285/.346/.451 with 36 doubles, 16 triples, eight homers, 63 RBIs and 30 steals.
Drafted as a catcher but moved to second base at his request, Lawrie improved defensively but still has work to do after committing 25 errors at Huntsville.
Considered the Brewers' No. 1 prospect prior to the trade, Lawrie was slated to play at Triple-A Nashville in 2011 but was blocked at the big league level by Rickie Weeks. The Brewers are trying to work out a contract extension with Weeks, who can be a free agent after next season.
Melvin said Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos had been persistent in trying to acquire Lawrie, a native Canadian. Different names were discussed but Melvin said only in recent days had the focus shifted to the 29-year-old Marcum.
Anthopoulos said he "swallowed hard" to trade Marcum, who went 13-8, 3.64 in 31 starts in 2010. But, in the end, he couldn't pass on Lawrie.
"Trading Shaun Marcum wasn't easy," Anthopoulos said. "I agonized over it. With the camaraderie and what he brought to the rotation, we didn't take that lightly. But we've been interested in acquiring Brett Lawrie for quite some time."
• The Brewers selected righthander Pat Egan, 26, from Baltimore in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and will be given a chance to earn a spot in the bullpen in spring camp. He went 7-2, 3.44 in 49 relief outings at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
• The Orioles selected righthander Adrian Rosario in the Rule 5 draft, a move that surprised the Brewers because Rosario, 21, pitched no higher than low Class A Wisconsin, where he went 4-0, 4.50 with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings.