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.
So the Brewers have a general manager and earlier today he told one of the beat writers who covers the team that he doesn’t think he is “motivated” to move available trade chips in advance of baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline tomorrow afternoon.
(Those comments can be read here: http://m.jsonline.com/more/sports/blogs/217603061.html)
In those same comments, however, that same GM mentioned that he had one trade “on the table” but admitted that he didn’t think it would lead to a deal.
But “For who?” you may ask.
Well, I’m fortunate enough to have someone to ask, so I did.
But first here’s the confusing part of that beat writer’s article…
“Melvin said he has only one trade offer on the table at present for a pitcher but wouldn’t say whether it’s a starter or a reliever. Asked if he thought that would lead to a deal, he said, “I don’t think so.”
Melvin said he has no active talks going for any of his remaining relievers, including lefty Michael Gonzalez, who is a free agent after the season.”
So perhaps Melvin puts a distinction between “on the table” and “active”, but to me that seems to indicate that the player involved has to be a starter. And that’s why it’s confusing.
Because I was told that the most viable (which doesn’t mean much) thing out there right now is that a pair of teams have checked in on Jim Henderson’s price with one of them likely being the team who has an outstanding offer.
Those teams are the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. We knew that the Tigers were previously connected to the Brewers when I reported about their unrealized interest in Francisco Rodriguez (whom the Brewers traded to the Baltimore Orioles last week), and there’s no shortage of history between Texas and Melvin including brief discussions this season about Norichika Aoki that never went anywhere.
Still, as I said on social media yesterday and on one of my weekly radio spots before that, while I’m not expecting anything at this point, something could come together very quickly on a player like Kyle Lohse. After all, much can happen in a short timeframe when motivation and/or desperation are involved.
(Author’s Note: I promised two pieces of info and will pass the other along when I have more time.)
Real quickly because I don’t have much time, I wanted to pass along to you all that another team has been passed along to me as inquiring about the “price” to acquire current Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez.
That team is the Los Angeles Dodgers who have been in contact with the Brewers about the former SoCal resident.
Since returning after the season’s start, K-Rod has been consistently effective and occasionally dominant in whatever role manager Ron Roenicke has put him in. In L.A. they’ve got Kenley Jansen closing out games just fine but Rodriguez could set-up for Jansen and shorten games many by three outs, much like he did for John Axford in 2011.
Good morning, and happy July, Brewer Nation!
It is officially trade season in Major League Baseball as the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros were all involved in moves over the past couple of days. Trade winds are beginning to pick up speed all around the league, and as has been documented numerous times by a multitude of baseball scribes, the Milwaukee Brewers could be at the center of a lot of activity. Whether that happens is truly up to some decisions by Doug Melvin (likely with Mark Attanasio’s input) about the short-term goals of the team.
Scouts have begun showing up in earnest at Brewers games, many centering around the starts of Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse. Some of that is due diligence and “normal coverage” but some of it isn’t.
I was made aware of some specific interest in a pair of Brewers players late on Tuesday night which I’m passing along now, but not before the sadly necessary caveat that:
- I’M NOT REPORTING IMMINENT TRADES!
- I’M ALSO NOT SAYING THAT THERE HAVE EVEN BEEN WORTHWHILE DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE TEAMS ABOUT THE PLAYERS YET.
All I’m saying is that these teams are known to have shown interest in the players to which I’m about to connect them.
This first one is easily guessable based on the need of the team and has been discussed by myself and others on Twitter already.
The Detroit Tigers have shown interest in Francisco Rodriguez.
The Tigers’ bullpen is perilously thin at the back end, what with their desperate attempt to get something out of Jose Valverde this season after initially choosing not to bring him back following his late 2012 implosions. K-Rod has pitched very well for Milwaukee, and he’s on a cheap deal for the rest of 2013. The Brewers should be extra motivated to move Rodriguez to the right bidder given that he’s only on a one-year deal and will likely command a much higher price tag in free agency after the season.
Two teams are tied to the next player I’m discussing tonight.
Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics have shown interest in Norichika Aoki.
Given that Aoki is controllable at an inexpensive rate in 2014, any team acquiring the former multi-time Japanese batting champion will be getting a year and a half of service out of him at the minimum.
In Oakland’s case, they don’t have an immediate need in their outfield but Aoki has proven to be a good hitter that would absolutely be useful for them. It could be a move with an eye on 2014 as well, however, as Coco Crisp is a free agent following this season.
For Tampa, they entered Tuesday just 2.0 games behind in their division and are barely getting any offensive production out of Matt Joyce at this point. Aoki would immediately upgrade their offense out of that lineup spot. Aoki has shown the ability to hit either first or second in a lineup, and both of those spots are currently filled normally by under-performing hitters.
So there you have it. Two ideas to wrap your minds around and see what you think about them. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know that actual discussions have taken place between these teams and Milwaukee, so I don’t know what (if any) possible return the Brewers could expect from these possible trade partners.
ESPN.com’s senior baseball writer Jayson Stark posted a column today about the trade market and all things pertaining to it.
He mentions the Brewers on the separate occasions. Here are those mentions and my thoughts about them.
On Aramis Ramirez, other hitters:
“The Brewers haven’t quite packed it in yet, but an official of one club that spoke with them reports that if they do sell, they’d gladly listen on their third baseman — and, for that matter, on any position player except Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun. The good news: Ramirez has a reputation as a second-half producer (.295/.351/.531 lifetime after the All-Star break). The bad news: He’s guaranteed $16 million next season, with a mutual option worth $14 million for 2015, with a $4 million buyout.”
It’s no surprise to read that the Brewers would listen on almost any hitter. There are veterans in this group that made a couple of playoff runs as a nucleus but are getting older and expensive together. There are complementary pieces that have performed well in Milwaukee but would be in decline (if they aren’t already) or off contract before Milwaukee’s next playoff push if they choose to adhere to Melvin’s stated directive.
One of the most valuable pieces among them, when healthy, is Ramirez. He could bring a handsome return from the right caller plus the Brewers would love to get out from underneath the rest of that contract.
I agree with the “untouchables” list offered above as well, realizing that the time to reload is now while we, as fans, look toward legitimate contention in the near future.
On Yovani Gallardo:
“The blueprint got all smushed up in Milwaukee this season. But that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be plenty to market if the Brewers sell. Atop the list of their most-coveted pieces, you’d find their ace, Yovani Gallardo. But teams that have checked in say the Brewers haven’t made it clear whether Gallardo is going to be out there or not. One NL exec said his impression was that Gallardo is the one pitcher on this staff who won’t be available. But another said: “To be honest, I think they would love to move him. Remember those fastballs that used to be 94-95-ish? Now they’re 89-90-ish.” Nevertheless, a 27-year-old starter with a track record and up to two seasons of control (counting his 2015 option) always makes for a viable trade chip.”
I don’t know that Melvin would “love” to move Gallardo as the executive who spoke to Stark suggested, but after Melvin’s comments mentioning Yo at all I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize that they’re willing to.
Melvin stated that a trade offer would have to “wow” him in order to move the Brewers’ long-time number one, but just that Melvin was willing to discuss Gallardo with the media speaks volumes.
Working in Melvin’s favor again is that he has some leverage with Gallardo much like he does with Ramirez. Gallardo is under contract for 2014 and has an affordable team option for ’15 that won’t be voidable after all. (The option could have been voided by Gallardo if he had multiple top finishes in the Cy Young Award balloting during the extension.)
Whether they should move Gallardo becomes the question now. Assuming a decent return is offered, are you reloading for a run at the division in 2016? Or do you want to take one more shot with this offense in ’14? The decision will be made soon and it directly affects Gallardo’s availability on the market.
Stark then lists his “Five more arms to keep an eye on:” at the end of the column, a list which includes Francisco Rodriguez.
This is the most obvious choice for a player that the Brewers would love to move. After getting somewhat screwed when Rodriguez accepted arbitration following the 2011 season, the Brewers got no compensation at all for what appeared to be the imminent departure of K-Rod from Cream City.
After receiving some offers to begin 2013, Rodriguez waited and eventually got a deal he was comfortable accepting from Doug Melvin. For everything that he wasn’t in 2012, Rodriguez has been excellent so far this season for Ron Roenicke. He would certainly bring back a worthwhile piece for a team in need of a proven (yes, I said it) late-inning option.
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
No need for much build up here.
On the heels of Monday’s Rumor Roundup, I wanted to bring you all some more information which I’ve learned.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that a deal at least at the Brewers magic number of $100 million over five years and as high as the Matt Cain extension which was signed during Spring Training could be on the table for Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke. When asked by the local media, Greinke himself confirmed that an offer had been made by Milwaukee but only said that Heyman’s report was more or less accurate.
Well, I was told a bit more specifically what the terms were in Milwaukee Brewers offered contract extension to Zack Greinke which was reported by the media over the weekend.
The base offer, as of last week Friday, was the $100 million over five years but with incentives that could push it near the Cain deal in terms of total compensation. Those incentives were tied to All-Star Games and Cy Young Award voting.
If Greinke ends up rejecting those terms, the Brewers could always modify their offer. Perhaps they already have. But those were the basic terms in what was offered.
I guess, in a way, I’m doing what many other people do and basically confirming parts of Heyman’s original report but I am offering more specifics about where the base salary in the offer is, how the money is structured, and how Greinke can increase the compensation.
As for the scouting, I have learned that the Brewers recently scouted a pair of Giants farmhands. They’re both pitchers, one currently at Triple-A and one currently pitching at the Double-A level.
Those pitchers are Yusmeiro Petit and Chris Heston, respectively.
It’s possible that this is somehow “normal coverage” that we’ve been told to expect, but I mention it because of two reasons.
1. It’s trading season
2. The Giants were one of the teams I was told showed specific interest in Corey Hart.
Hart has been linked to the Giants before, a couple of years back, so we know that GM Brian Sabean likes him as a player.
Petit doesn’t exactly blow my skirt up. He’s 27, only controllable for what appears to be maybe two seasons, and despite decent numbers at Triple-A this year he’s got a poor MLB track record.
Chris Heston excites a little more based solely on his numbers and age. He’s 6’4″, 190lbs, 24 years old, 7-4 with a 2.30 ERA and and has only allowed 2 HR in nearly 105.2 IP this season. His ground ball to fly ball rate for outs is 1.67 and he also misses bats as he’s tallied 95 K to this point.
Again, as with anything I post about trades and rumors, take this for what it’s worth but most of all only read what is actually written.
Nothing has been set in motion necessarily. I’m not reporting that any kind of a deal has been made with San Francisco nor am I implying that this would be for only these players or even both of them. Could be neither, if something happens at all. I’m just reporting a set of circumstances which could maybe lead to something…maybe.
Enjoy your Tuesday. I hope to be back with more later this evening.