The Hot Stove is wasting little time getting warmed up this year, at least in Milwaukee.
While Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has prepped media and fans alike to not hold great expectations about the available market of free agents, there is at least one name that everyone expects the Brewers to be in on. And that dance appears about ready to begin, if it hasn’t already.
He’s the man who didn’t play an inning of baseball for the Brewers in 2013, leading to a cavalcade of also-rans posting the worst combined OPS at their position this past season. Milwaukee first basemen — all seven(!) of them — posted a .211/.256/.359 slash line.
He’s also the man who, a source tells me, the Brewers are preparing to present an offer to. Not that this should come as a surprise, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am of course talking about Corey Hart.
Because I mentioned the first basemen in Hart’s absence, for what it’s worth, Hart posted a slash line of .275/.339/.492 in 100 games as a first baseman in 2012. We’re not here to extol his virtues as a player, however.
I’m reporting, via a source (which is where information comes from whether you like it or not), that the Milwaukee Brewers either have extended an offer to Corey Hart for the 2014 season or are finalizing an offer to present soon. The uncertainly in the headline is because while my source says the offer has been presented to Hart’s representation, my source has been wrong about the timing of such formality before. What my source hasn’t been wrong about is the subjects of these free agent offer situations over the years.
Also, terms are always negotiable until a contract is signed, so I normally don’t discuss money even though that’s often passed along too. I will say though that the contract would be for one year with a discounted base salary, as expected. There will be a handful of incentives which could push the full value of the offered deal a touch higher than what Hart collected for his vigorous 2013 rehabilitation contract. The breakdown of those incentives was not readily available though it stands to reason that a tiered approach based on games played would make for a fair jumping off point.
Bottom line: Hart wants to stay with Milwaukee and he could fill a major need there. He offered to take a discounted salary and the Brewers are apparently willing to take him up on that offer. And if Hart plays well, he still gets paid. Now it’s up to Hart to decide if the offer was fair enough for him as currently constituted.
But make no mistake, if Hart is healthy (and can perform adequately) this scenario is perfect for Milwaukee. Get a good player at a good price who fills a huge hole. It would offer some payroll flexibility, but not much if he performs as desired. Though to be fair, that’s a problem both Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio would love to deal with.
And now the disclaimer of sorts: Hart has not signed with the Brewers or anybody else yet. This article in no way implies that he has nor does it imply that he definitely won’t sign elsewhere. He could sign somewhere other than Milwaukee. This is just a report about a contract offer scenario.
Today at Brewers camp in Phoenix, Arizona, general manager Doug Melvin commented on the state of the roster as it stands today.
“We’re not looking at anybody else,” said Melvin.
Of course, Melvin is like any other GM worth his salt and will always answer the phone. However, when he said that they’re done shopping is important as well. Melvin was asked about the continued dot-connecting between the Brewers and free agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse. Melvin stated that he hasn’t had any conversations with agent Scott Boras about Lohse but believes that Boras has contacted Brewers principle owner Mark Attanasio directly.
You stay classy, Scott Boras.
Regardless, it appears that Melvin, Ron Roenicke, and the powers the be are content to choose a 25-man roster from those players already under contract with the organization.
So, to the Hot Stove which helps keep us from freezing to death each and every November, December, and January…
The Winter Meetings start next week and, as I’ve said more than once in this space, there is opportunity for a lot to get done every year during them.
Last year we here at Brewer Nation were the first to bring to you that the Brewers made contact and were potentially “down the road” with then free agent Aramis Ramirez prior to the Winter Meetings. We had the money right though we were slightly off on the years (though we later learned that it may have been a misinterpretation on our end of the information we obtained).
Well, Doug Melvin is at it again in the days leading up to the 2012 Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. Though “it” in this case is merely dipping his toe in to test the water a bit more so than being anywhere significant.
FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that the Brewers are one of three teams that have “shown interest” in free agent starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.
(By the way, this absolutely qualifies as something that makes sense but that I hadn’t yet heard independently so it’s not something I had passed along yet.)
Rosenthal said in a tweet earlier:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2012
Naturally, I’ve already seen on Twitter where someone interpreted that as “The Brewers are close to signing Dempster to a three-year deal.” Jumping to conclusions is one of the most repeated acts on the internet.
But just take Rosenthal’s tweet for what it says which (according to his sources) is:
- Ryan Dempster wants a three-year contract.
- The Milwaukee Brewers have expressed interest in Ryan Dempster.
- The Boston Red Sox have expressed interest in Ryan Dempster.
- The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have expressed interest in Ryan Dempster.
It does not say that any of those teams are willing to give Dempster a three-year deal, just that Dempster (understandably) is seeking a three-year deal. It does not say that Dempster is not willing to sign a contract at less than three years. It does not say whether any of the mentioned teams expressed their interest in Dempster after they learned that Dempster is seeking a three-year deal.
I hope I’ve covered all the ways the you could read into Rosenthal’s tweet.
I’ve reached out to someone to see if he knows anything further about the Brewers “expressed interest” in Ryan Dempster. I’ll update this space when I hear back.
***UPDATE: I heard back. My friend had heard the Brewers being tied to Dempster but thought it was “speculative” talk that sometimes goes on and not something concrete enough to pass along.***
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The newest Brewer Nation podcast featuring your humble blogger and my podcast partner Cary Kostka has been uploaded to Cary’s site and US available for consumption!
We discuss a number of topics from hire the season finished up to off-season leagues to naming our rotations should the Brewers not add another starting pitcher.
Click the link to access the podcast and enjoy! http://sportprofiles.files.wordpress.com/podcast-central/2012/03/bnation_112712.mp3
Midnight EST on Friday is the next milestone in the off-season as all teams must decide whether to tender contracts to players under team control but who do not have a fixed contract value for 2013. This can lead to arbitration, to long-term contract talks, to a simple one-year deal or possibly even to a trade. Player who aren’t tendered become free agents and can sign with any team.
Often times a player is non-tendered because his cost outweighs his value. Non-tendered players are free to re-sign with their original team. This occurs to reduce cost associated with a player’s years of arbitration eligibility.
The Brewers began the off-season with a handful of non-tender candidates. Nearly all of them have since been designated for assignment and subsequently released (or they refused a minor-league assignment with the same effect). The Brewers do have a relatively high-profile non-tender candidate remaining, however…
Eventually a well-regarded prospect after being taken in the 26th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft back in 2001, Parra is now a 30-year-old southpaw relief pitcher who doesn’t exactly get left-handed hitters out like he should if he were to focus his efforts.
It can be accurately stated that over the course of his career Parra fares better against lefties than he does against right-handed hitters. This is reflected in his career splits of .267/.349/.417/.766 against .290/.371/.438/.809. It’s also accurate that in his first season where he only pitched out of the bullpen, Parra beat his career averages.
Therein lies the question which must be answered by Doug Melvin et al. Should Parra become a LOOGy and, if so, how much is he worth (financially) in that role?
Parra has had a bit of relative success against right-handed hitters when you compare him to a “standard” LOOGy. What you have to ask yourself if you’re Melvin is whether Parra is consistently successful enough to continue to warrant a role where he faces multiple hitters are varying handedness in a given appearance.
I personally don’t think so and I would completely understand if Melvin and field manager Ron Roenicke altered Parra’s role in 2013…assuming he’s with the team.
That’s the other question. If Parra, who is arbitration-eligible, isn’t worth the usual increase by way of the arbitration process. This is Parra’s second year of arbitration eligibility. Parra made $1.2 million in 2012* which isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things. With the premium on bullpen arms, especially given that it could be argued that Parra has added value in that some might feel he could still start games, a 2013 salary of $1.75 million or more wouldn’t shock me.
So Parra isn’t as pressing of an issue as Jose Veras, Kameron Loe, and Nyjer Morgan were, for example. Each of those players were projected for new salaries of over $2.5 million. In other words, if the Brewers decide to keep Manny Parra for 2013, it works financially on its own merit. Putting everything together though with production determining value for that cost is what Melvin and company are no doubt weighing.
The other thing to note about the non-tender deadline is that there will be players released by other teams, some of which might be appealing to the Brewers. It could be a cheaper way to fill some of these bullpen roles which currently stand open for Milwaukee. If they do cut ties with Parra (and then don’t bring him back) the Brewers really only have three players currently in the bullpen. They are John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Brandon Kintzler.
They’ll need help. They’d do well for at least one piece of the help to throw the pill with his left hand. Will that be Parra? Stay tuned.
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Today is 11 weeks, that’s 77 days away from the first batch of Pitchers and Catchers officially reporting to Maryvale for Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training on Tuesday, February 12, 2013.
The Hot Stove season is underway and I’ve done my best to pass along some information that I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks. Maybe some of it will pan out, maybe not, but I don’t write the blog and do everything that goes with it to keep information to myself.
I’ve been asked a bunch over the past few days why there hasn’t been a new Hot Stove Report column lately, or at least comments to the effect of “sure has been quiet”. I tried to head that off at the pass by saying in my last one that I was shocked that they were coming as often as they were, but that’s neither here nor there.
The answer to those inquiries is two-fold across baseball (three-fold in the case of the Brewers).
First, the long Thanksgiving weekend is notoriously slow for baseball activity. Even front offices need breaks and that’s a common time to slow things down. The holiday itself, travel, and spending time with family and friends often leads to a natural slow-down.
Second, the Winter Meetings are less than a week away. An incredible amount of discussing, bartering, speculating, scuttlebutting, rumor-mongering, and yes deal-making happens at the Winter Meetings. Groundwork often gets laid at various times throughout the early portion of the off-season and gets finalized during the Winter Meetings. They’ve become a destination for baseball fans and media types descend on them like a pack of scavengers who haven’t had a meal in three day’s time.
As for the Brewers specifically, the third factor contributing to a lull is that Doug Melvin and his family were overseas on vacation. Not much gets done when the man who pulls the trigger is out of the country. Melvin will be at the Winter Meetings no doubt ready to pursue some targets and possibly (hopefully?) get some ink drying.
But, as I said, there are reasons for a lack of activity which means that there are reasons for a lack of fresh Hot Stove content here on the blog. (Plus I took a vacation of my own over the Thanksgiving weekend.)
This all leads me to my final point to make today: I only post things as having happened if I’ve been told that they have happened. In other words, I don’t just make things up for the sake of posting something.
I haven’t posted a new Hot Stove Report in several days because I haven’t learned anything to pass along. The sources which I have gotten information from in the past (and will continue to utilize in the future) have always provided quality intel and there are proven examples of that information being accurate. It’s a simple reality that not everything pans out. If every idea that was ever mentioned by a baseball person was out there for public consumption, we’d cry uncle for information overload. A LOT of things get talked about that don’t go anywhere. That’s the nature of the business. It doesn’t make a rumor less true because the particular path led to nowhere.
That being said, I could fabricate something that makes a ton of sense and would be believable, but that would be doing myself as much of a disservice as all of you. I get no benefit for floating a rumor out that comes from nowhere. I’ll occasionally discuss an idea that I think makes sense but will always tell you first that it’s purely speculation and not based on any rumor, but that’s entirely separate from passing something along from a source.
Anyway, I hope you had a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I know many baseball people did. Accepting the calm can make appreciating the storm much easier. Speaking of which, this year’s Winter Meetings begin next week Monday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Batten down the hatches.
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Here is the other thing I mentioned on Twitter the other day. I didn’t even really want to post this one, but several people talked me into it. “What could it hurt?” was the underlying theme of their prodding.
This isn’t really a revelation so much as it would be a confirmation of what many people can assume and infer based on standard operating procedure by sports agents. Agents try to drum up as much interest in their clients as possible. That’s their job. More teams involved on a client usually leads to more money being paid to that client.
It doesn’t mean anything more than what is written. No signing is imminent. Numbers likely were not discussed. But…
The agent for Josh Hamilton did contact the Brewers.
It makes all the sense in the world that he would. Doug Melvin doesn’t like to pursue players who don’t show an interest in playing in Milwaukee; that isn’t a secret. Making contact sends a message, however thin, that “my client would consider playing here” and that means that one of Melvin’s favorite excuses is taken off the table.
The trump card of “we can’t afford him” is obviously still up Melvin’s sleeve regardless, but it’s all about positioning at this stage of the game for a talent like Hamilton in unrestricted free agency. His agent can say, truthfully, that he’s talked to other teams regardless of who he is negotiating with down the road. Pitting GMs who have access to owners with deep pockets against each other is a technique that has won many a battle in the war against the league minimum.
So as much as it pains me to add kindling on top of the Hamilton-to-Milwaukee embers, Hamilton’s side has reached out. To be fair though, expecting anything less would be foolish, really.
Don’t read anything into this that isn’t there. Read the words, don’t read into the words.
In other words, nothing is likely to happen and I’m definitely not saying that anything will. At all. There aren’t many scenarios that exist in which Hamilton would (or could) sign with Milwaukee. It’d take a truly perfect confluence of events to result in the Milwaukee Brewers signing Josh Hamilton in advance of the 2013 season.
I hope that’s clear.
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Sometimes things seems so obvious after they are mentioned. While that’s true in various facets of life, it especially holds true in the roster composition of a Major League Baseball team.
If you think about the shortcomings of the Milwaukee Brewers over the course of the 2012 regular season, what comes to mind? Shortstop was pretty poor after Alex Gonzalez got hurt. Well, the team believes that they’ve addressed the long-term (if not the immediate) future of that position when they acquired Jean Segura. The rest of the offense was fine as a whole. The rotation needs attention now, but that’s mostly because there are specific players who won’t return in 2013, but they’ve got the bodies to fill out the rotation if pitchers and catchers reported today. No, the biggest shortcoming which hasn’t yet been sufficiently addressed is the bullpen.
When 2011 ended the bullpen was thought to be a strength headed into 2012. John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez would lock down the 8th and 9th again and trading away Casey McGehee brought a capable “7th inning guy” so the Brewers thought they were covered. Well, there was a lot of failed opportunities all over and with no proven veteran options to turn to, the bullpen suffered for it.
Axford seemed to find himself again by the end of the season despite the late blown Save against the Reds and he’s been endorsed (for whatever that is actually worth) as the team’s closer heading into next season. Axford’s fellow Canadian Jim Henderson will return after performing well down the stretch also. Beyond that the only name still even on the roster is left-hander Manny Parra and many fans I’ve talked to this off-season so far expect him to follow Kameron Loe and Jose Veras to the Designated For Assignment line or at least be non-tendered.
The result is that in a “standard” seven-man bullpen, the Milwaukee Brewers have five spots to fill.
They’ve added several players already this Hot Stove Season, but they are all marginal talents to be fair. What I was told though was that Doug Melvin and a certain player’s agent have been talking about a potential reunion, one that would right what many fans consider to be a wrong from a year ago.
While nothing is imminent and there is reportedly at least one other team talking to this player’s agent as well, I was told that the Brewers have been in contact with the agent of veteran free agent right-hander LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawk first came to the Brewers prior to the 2010 season though he lost much of that year to injury. He pitched very well in 2011 once he was ramped up into higher leverage situations. Last December he signed a contract with the The Angels Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of the State of California. He pitched well again, though not as well as in 2011.
The potential downside is simply that Hawkins will be 40 next year and many players are finished by that point in there careers. Then again, many players don’t make it to 39 either. Exceptions exist for every rule.
I don’t know who contacted who first and I don’t know what kind of terms have been thrown around in the early talks but you’d have to think that Hawkins would love two years but being 40 next year makes that a near impossibility. One year plus an option should be enough to get Hawkins playing a 19th year in MLB.
Again, I must stress that nothing might come of this with the Brewers and nothing at all is imminent (at least not as of this morning). Hawkins is on vacation in London and obviously would have to be in the States to pass a physical for any deal. It might happen, but just not today.
Still, that the Brewers might be in contact with Hawkins’ agent is encouraging. He should be able to help provide a steady, dependable option like he did two seasons ago when the Brewers made it to the National League Championship Series.
Previous Hot Stove Reports
The following transaction has been officially announced for today:
- RHP Jairo Asencio has been signed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Major League camp
Asencio (6’2″, 180 lbs) went 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 30 relief appearances between the Cleveland Indians (18 G, 1-1, 5.96 ERA) and Chicago Cubs (12 G, 0-0, 3.07 ERA) last season.
Asencio (28) has pitched in the big leagues in parts of three major league seasons, appearing in three games in 2009 and six games in 2011 with the Atlanta Braves.
Any additional transactions today will be updated in this space.
The following transactions have been officially announced by the Milwaukee Brewers today:
- Mat Gamel has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
- Chris Narveson has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
- Alex Gonzalez has been reinstated from the 60-Day Disabled List
- Alex Gonzalez has elected free agency
- Francisco Rodriguez has elected free agency
- Shaun Marcum has elected free agency
- UPDATE: Infielder Hector Gomez* has signed a minor league contract with an invite to major league Spring Training
No free agent can sign with a new team until this coming Saturday (November 3rd) at the earliest.
If any other official transactions take place today, this space will be updated with the information.
* – Hector Gomez was outrighted off the the Brewers 40-man roster on October 19th.