Well, it looks like the Brewers and Doug Melvin and finally found a left-handed relief pitcher for the 2013 bullpen.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 20, 2012
Following the non-tender of Manny Parra, the Brewers had been connected closer with a trio of left-handers (Sean Burnett, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell) and were basically mentioned when talking about any of the other free agent lefties available.
This morning’s news from Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt would appear to tie a bow on those proceedings. The bow could be untied, of course, if Gorzelanny fails his physical.
The team hasn’t yet announced the deal which they cannot do until the physical is complete per Major League Baseball’s rules. The announcement is expected to happen on Friday.
Gorzelanny, 30, offers the ability to be more than just a LOOGy, something which Ron Roenicke has noted he prefers in the past. He has stated that he doesn’t want a lefty just to have a lefty, and the feel of using up a spot in the bullpen on a specialist doesn’t jive with that idea. The aforementioned Parra was thought to be able to fill that role given his ability and repertoire on the mound but proved ineffective and inconsistent.
As with many left-handers, perhaps Gorzelanny has taken a while to find his best role and really come into his ability. As a full-season starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 24, Gorzelanny had a strong season but hadn’t been able to duplicate those results, let alone better them, until his full-time switch to the bullpen in 2012. (Okay, so he started one game on October 2nd to help allow the Nationals to best set their postseason rotation but 44 out of 45 appearances out of the bullpen is full-time enough for me.)
In 2012, Gorzelanny posted a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA and one Save. In his 44 bullpen appearances he struck out 57, walked 28, gave up 61 hits in 68.1 innings, good for a 1.302 WHIP. Gorzelanny held left-handed hitters overall to a .237/.298/.398 (.687 OPS) and a .298 wOBA. As mentioned before, he wasn’t a slouch against right-handers either, holding them to a .245/.343/.397 (.740 OPS) and a .326 wOBA. The biggest disparity is the on-base against righties. That’s in large part to his drastically increased walk rate against them. He walked right-handed hitters twice as often as lefties in 2012.
The other thing Gorzelanny offers is a bit of coverage for the rotation should the need for a spot-start arise. He has started for the majority of his career but certainly appears much more suited to the bullpen. But he has the ability to go multiple innings which is another quality that Roenicke appreciates in his relievers. In fact, Gorzelanny recorded more than just three outs in over half (23-of-44) of his relief appearances last season.
We don’t know the money yet, but assuming that Gorzelanny realized he wasn’t going to get the same kind of contract signed by Burnett with the Angels, it shouldn’t be a figure which hamstrings the Brewers in any way.
Therefore, for now, I’ll say that this signing makes a ton of sense for the Brewers and should help everyone forget about the repeated poor bullpen performances of 2012.
***UPDATE: The following tweet came from FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi regarding a dollar amount for Gorzelanny.***
Tom Gorzelanny’s deal with #Brewers will be worth close to $6MM over two years, source says.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 20, 2012
Gorzelanny made $3 million in 2012 and $2.1 million in 2011 as a member of the Washington Nationals for the last two years so this dollar amount sounds fair.
***UPDATE 2: Full contract value breakdown was tracked down by Tom Haudricourt***
#Brewers deal with LHP Tom Gorzelanny guarantees $5.7 million: $300,000 signing bonus, salaries of $2.6 M in ’13 and $2.8 M in ’14.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 21, 2012
Assuming the deal becomes official, Gorzelanny will fill the only currently open slot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.
What a busy day at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.
Busy, but not all that productive for the Milwaukee Brewers.
After expressing their interest in Sean Burnett, Jason Grilli, Randy Choate, Ryan Dempster, and others this week, the Brewers have lost out on a couple of those names.
Burnett is reportedly going to the Angels on a two-year deal worth “just south of” $9.5 million total.
#Angels have signed LH RP Sean Burnett to a 2-year deal with a club option, source said. Pending physical.
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 5, 2012
Mike DiGiovanna has since confirmed the cost for Burnett, which is higher than I was told the Brewers wanted to offer.
#Angels deal for Sean Burnett two years and $8 million.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) December 5, 2012
Jason Grilli tweeted that he was headed to the Winter Meetings for a “full day” (which isn’t over yet) and his agent Gary Sheffield reportedly told Nick Cafardo that he was closing in on a deal. While I’ve been told that Sheffield isn’t as close as he made it seem, it could still come together quickly. Also, Doug Melvin now tells the media that he hasn’t spoken directly to Sheffield this week despite telling those same reporters on Monday that they had talked about Grilli.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted about why the market for Grilli might be bigger than the Brewers had anticipated when discussing the offer idea I mentioned yesterday.
Grilli market heating up (weak pun). 10 teams in. Good pitcher.Oddity: chose gary sheffield as his agent
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012
Not that it’s not understandable to a degree, but Melvin seems to change his story to keep himself from looking bad if his advances are rebuffed by free agents. Manager Ron Roenicke confirmed the team’s interest in Grilli as well, but not in the $5-$7 million AAV range. If you press me to remember specific examples I’ll try, but it’s just a feeling that has been in my head for a while. This new Grilli talk feels no different to me.
For what it’s worth on Grilli, this came in just prior to my posting this early evening recap and I doubt that the Brewers are in play despite being so earlier this week:
Sheffield: Grilli still wading through all the offers presented to him. #pirates
— Tom Singer (@Tom_Singer) December 5, 2012
Randy Choate, reportedly on the Brewers radar as a left-handed reliever agreed to a (are you sitting down) reported three-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Source: Choate’s deal with #STLCards is three years.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 5, 2012
It’s becoming quite apparent that the market for relief pitching is inflated right now. Melvin may be better of simply biding his time until cheaper options start to sign their deals once the market is set.
The latest on the Ryan Dempster situation is that he still wants three years and the Brewers still don’t want to go over two years. That’s not a secret anymore, but either discuss compromises or simply move on at some point.
More on the Brewers starting pitching desires come from Danny Knobler:
Brewers have considered trading Corey Hart to free up money for pitching search. Without some type of move, can’t play on bigger pitchers.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 5, 2012
Would the Brewers be willing to trade Hart? They’d listen. Hart isn’t signed past next season and the long-term future at the position is something which the Brewers need to make a decision about. Plus Hart could always ask for way more money than the Brewers want to pay him and he could leave town anyway for no return. Now, should they trade Hart and reinsert Mat Gamel as the team’s every day first baseman? That would depend on what the Brewers would get back beyond the $9.5 million or so in salary relief.
In minor league news, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel passed along that the Brewers have resigned shortstop Hainley Statia to a minor league deal.
#Brewers re-sign minor-league INF Hainley Statia to contract for 2013. No invitation to big-league camp.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 5, 2012
Also as I reported earlier, the Brewers signed someone new to the organization in right-handed relief pitcher Chris Jakubauskas:
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) December 5, 2012
Doug Melvin did tell the media that he is keeping an eye on a specific player as it relates to the Rule V Draft tomorrow but he doubts the player will reach them with the 16th pick of said draft.
Finally, Gord Ash was a guest on a Toronto-based radio program broadcasting from Nashville. He confirmed the team’s mutual interest in Josh Hamilton and laid out some reasons that Hamilton was drawn to the Brewers but said that it simply comes down to a matter of dollars and Milwaukee’s not having enough of them given the way the market appears to have been shaping up for the free agent former AL MVP.
***UPDATE: Adam McCalvy indicated that Doug Melvin said he met with the agent who happens to be the representative of free agents J.P Howell and Edwin Jackson but wouldn’t divulge what was discussed.***
The second day of the 2012 Winter Meetings is nearly over in Nashville. The Brewers still hadn’t signed anybody by day’s end, but at least there’s more to report than yesterday.
I attempt to have some continuity and flow in my posts as a rule, but this post might jump around a lot as I remember the things I need to include.
First, I reported midday that the Brewers had made a offers to a pair of free agent relief pitchers. You can read about that at the link. Later in the day, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted this:
Free-agent LH reliever Sean Burnett now looking beyond #Nationals. Not looking for Affeldt money (3/18). Open to two-year deals.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2012
That matches up to the what I reported just after lunch. I learned that the Brewers offered Burnett a two-year deal. One of my Twitter followers asked why Burnett isn’t already signed in Milwaukee if the Brewers gave him what he is seeking. I countered with the idea that they may match up on years but that doesn’t mean they match up on money just yet.
General manger Doug Melvin said late in the day that he had not yet extended any formal offers to any free agents, which could very well be true. There is a formality involved in submitting an official offer for a player to consider. What I was told was the framework exists for the offers that were passed along for Burnett and Grilli. That does not mean that they’ve been sent along to the respective players or their representatives.
Moving on, the Brewers were said to have “kicked the tires” on free agent reliever Mark Lowe, recently of the Texas Rangers. That report came from FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi.
Melvin also told the media in his evening session that he had finally met with agent Craig Landis who represents both Ryan Dempster and Brett Myers. But while Melvin confirmed the meeting, he would not discuss what was said during the meeting. For what it’s worth, it was previously reported that Dempster has reciprocated Milwaukee’s interest but is seeking a three-year deal while the Brewers prefer to limit a deal to two years.
Also confirmed was that Melvin had briefly discussed 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets but that they quickly realized that the teams don’t match up and therefore didn’t even advance to the point of discussing names of other players to have been involved.
Ron Roenicke was at the Opryland Hotel today and held court with the media. He also appeared on MLB Network Radio during the afternoon hours. Roenicke had a few nuggets of knowledge to share. He said that he’s considering moving Rickie Weeks back to the lead off spot in the lineup. Roenicke also suggested the while Mat Gamel won’t be playing winter ball anywhere (per Melvin), Gamel will be getting a good amount of time at the corner OF positions during spring training.
While on MLB Network Radio, Roenicke confirmed again the Brewers’ interest in Grilli “if the money works” but not at $5-$7 million. I was told that the proposed offer the Brewers were formulating was less than that for just one year, so we’ll see if that gets it done at some point.
Finally for Roenicke, he reiterated that the Brewers don’t need to get another starting pitcher, despite the stated desire to. He acknowledged that they currently already have one extra starter. He also said that Marco Estrada has a pretty good foot in the door for a spot in the rotation. That would be a field then of Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers.
Back to Melvin, he confirmed that they are looking for a backup shortstop option if they can find one. They still have some interest in bringing back Alex Gonzalez if he would accept a bench role.
Melvin also mentioned the names of Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan as having been discussed. Personally, I’m hoping that they’re using the media to help Sean Burnett remember that he isn’t the only LHP available. A little posturing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all.
As for the money situation, Melvin confirmed that the Brewers are actually seeing a significant bump in their local TV contract revenue, but that it still pales in comparison to the money some teams are getting in their brand new local TV deals. Melvin said that they’ll go from $12 million in 2012 to right around $21 million for 2013. The oft-reported national TV money bump doesn’t begin until 2014, which is the year that has always been reported by me at least.
So there you have it. If I remember anything else I wanted to pass along (and it feels like I”m forgetting something…) I’ll update this blog so check back periodically.
As of last night, Brewers GM Doug Melvin stated that he didn’t have any trade discussions underway. He also admitted to making contact with a pair of free agent relievers.
What I didn’t recall reading was him saying that he hadn’t made any contract offers yet so I was curious. I reached out to a source and was told that the Brewers have offers “on the table” to both LHP Sean Burnett and RHP Jason Grilli.
Please make sure you read that properly. Offers only. No indication of response. Nothing “imminent” or “guaranteed” nor should anything like that be implied. Does that make sense? Good.
I was told dollar amounts on both deals, but money is very fluid and can change pretty rapidly so keep that in mind. The years I was told don’t change as often so I’ll pass along those specifics.
Grilli’s offer is a one-year deal at a slight raise over his 2012 salary of $1.1 million from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Burnett’s offer is a two-year pact resulting in an AAV greater than his 2012 salary of $2.3 million with the Washington Nationals. I wasn’t told how the dollars would breakdown between the two years at this time.
Could options or incentives or other elements to contracts change or be added or what have you? Of course. Just passing along what was passed along to me.
It was also confirmed to me what Melvin said yesterday in that Dempster is seeking a three-year deal and the Brewers are still at two (at least right now), but it was not said whether the Brewers had a formalized offer on the table to Dempster. I’d guess not because Dempster’s agent is on the record as saying that (at least for right now) an offer under three years in length would be a deal-breaker.
I was also passed along a note about Josh Hamilton due to assumed interest. I was told that right now Hamilton’s camp isn’t even entertaining teams unless they show a willingness to go seven years on a contract. That seems absurd to me based on the majority of reports out there. I have a feeling that this tidbit is absolute misdirection. It was indicated that the Brewers did express interest (as has been reported of their being “on the periphery”) but at a length of five years (again, at least right now). I’m less inclined to believe that Hamilton will get seven years, for what it’s worth.
So, there you go. As with all rumors, especially those coming out of the Winter Meetings, take them with the necessary amount of salt.
***UPDATE: I was told that the Brewers did not make “official” offers to Grilli or Burnett. Terms were discussed but official offers were not submitted to the players’ representatives.***
See Previous Hot Stove Reports:
- Hot Stove Report: Brewers Begin Testing Pitching Market
- Hot Stove Report: Non-Tender Deadline Looms
- Hot Stove Report: Calm Before the Storm
- Hot Stove Report: Somebody New Has Contacted the Brewers (but it means little)
- Hot Stove Report: On The Move?
- Hot Stove Report: A Cream City Reunion Could Be In The Works
- Hot Stove Report: Brewers Fielded Trade Idea
The Winter Meetings are underway in Nashville. Hopefully you read my preview column so that I don’t have to re-reference a lot of reasoning behind my forthcoming comments, but if you didn’t you can definitely do so and then come right back.
The first official day of the Winter Meetings is complete and while much talking and negotiating takes place “after hours”, there is daily availability from Doug Melvin to recap the day for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Today, Melvin pulled back the current a bit to confirm that he has made contact regarding a pair of free agent relief pitchers. He also, as I said he would and already basically did, retreated from his previous comments stating that they would not go over two years for a starting pitcher. He reminded those that needed reminding that for the right player at the right dollars, he’d go longer than two years.
Melvin was asked about the team’s reciprocal interest in free agent starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. He said that he hadn’t met with Dempster’s agent yet but that he “might as well” discuss the right-hander while they’re all here. He was quick to note that it might simply be time to let their young pitchers earn their keep. He listed the same group of in-house options that I’ve mentioned more than once in this space, so no reason to list them again. He did state that he feels the top level of the organization’s depth at starting pitcher currently features Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos.
The relief pitchers with which Melvin has made contact are righty Jason Grilli and lefty Sean Burnett. Melvin was clear that he wants to get a left-handed relief pitcher but through free agency rather than a trade. He also said that while he spoke to Grilli’s agent, former big leaguer Gary Sheffield (yes, that Gary Sheffield), there is still a long list of available relievers. Those names on Milwaukee’s radar include Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, and Jon Rauch. Melvin noted that he has no interest in Matt Capps or Daisuke Matsuzaka. There’s always a group of recent additions to the organization that will get an opportunity to fill a bullpen spot or two including Michael Olmstead, Fautino De Los Santos, Jairo Ascenio, Arcenio Leon, et cetera.
More specifically on the if any negotiations are underway or any ideas are “down the road”, Melvin said that he had no active trade talks and that the trade market was pretty quiet right now while the top free agents determine the locations of their new home offices.
As for current Brewers, Melvin was asked about Corey Hart and responded that he hasn’t talked to Hart’s agent about an extension yet and also had not fielded any recent trade ideas for the longest-tenured Brewer. In other words: nothing to report.
Melvin was also asked about their current catching situation. He made it sound like he’d prefer to keep Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado in place but has been asked more a couple of times about the availability of half of the catching duo. He did also say, however, that someone would have to come with a strong offer to pry one away (likely Maldonado would be more available than Lucroy, in my opinion) so that’s not an untouchable situation by any means.
Finally, the subject of the big fish Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton was broached. Melvin said that he didn’t foresee getting involved on either player because they appeared to be “getting market value” which means too pricey for Milwaukee.
The Winter Meetings aren’t officially underway just yet as I sit down to give my keyboard a workout this evening, but the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee is set and baseball executives from across North America have checked into their rooms and have no doubt begun to follow up on things begun prior to departing for Music City.
Doug Melvin is there (along with his entourage) and has had plenty to say about what he expects out of the 2012 Winter Meetings. With appreciation to the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel for the quotes themselves, I’ll be laying out some things Melvin said and analyzing what I think they mean for the Brewers heading through the rest of the off-season.
Before I do that, let’s recap the basics about what educated fans know already about the Brewers and their needs.
The bullpen was bad in 2012. In fact, it underperformed so incredibly that it alone could be labeled as a singular reason that the team failed to reach the postseason. Just a handful of losses flipped to wins and the Brewers would have had that opportunity to face the Braves in the first-ever National League Wild Card Game.
As a result of their collective struggles, the bullpen has been basically gutted. Gone are multi-year Brewers like Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, Tim Dillard, Mike McClendon, and Manny Parra. Along with them, first-year tryouts for Jose Veras and Livan Hernandez ended in free agency. Even short-term fixes like Vinnie Chulk came and went. The only guys left who pitched in the big league bullpen to end the regular season and are still a part of this organization are likely closer John Axford, likely setup man Jim Henderson, and the finally healthy Brandon Kintzler.
As we all know, the Brewers did announce a trade acquisition on Saturday when they dealt a minor-league outfielder for established relief pitcher Burke Badenhop. That addition still leaves three jobs to be filled. FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi already tweeted earlier this evening about one of those open roles:
#Brewers are prioritizing a lefty reliever. Among the available free agents: Burnett, Choate, M. Gonzalez, Howell, Gorzelanny.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 2, 2012
Just some names to know.
A return of all five starting pitchers from the 2011 NLCS team was seen as a rarity, not to mention that the Brewers only used six starting pitchers all that season. Now? Randy Wolf was released, Shaun Marcum is a free agent, Zack Greinke was traded, and Chris Narveson is coming off of shoulder surgery.
That’s the stuff of how question marks are made.
Yovani Gallardo is set to return atop the rotation but after that hasn’t yet been decided. As it stands right now, the Brewers have probably six arms vying for the open four spots in the rotation. Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers and, to a lesser extent in my opinion, Tyler Thornburg.
Doug Melvin has mentioned a couple of free agent starters by name this off-season already (Edwin Jackson and Ryan Dempster, for the record) but had some commentary on that front as well.
Will Jean Segura begin the season as the starting everyday shortstop in Milwaukee or in the aforementioned city of Nashville as he gets a bit more seasoning in Triple-A? Who will take over as the backup infielders after the Brewers burned through a number of MLB veterans during 2012? Travis Ishikawa is gone, Alex Gonzalez is a free agent after being hurt most of the season, Mat Gamel should be healthy but missed a ton of at-bats and doesn’t really have a job at this point…and that’s just the infield.
In the outfield, Nyjer Morgan was released and Logan Schafer seems incredibly obvious to become the fourth outfielder with Milwaukee. After that, though, will they carry a fifth outfielder? If so, who will it be?
About the only spot on the field where there isn’t a question is behind the plate. Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado are healthy and coming off of strong seasons.
Excuse whilst I knock on some wood.
Okay. With that, let’s get to those quotes from Melvin.
The big quote is one about payroll. After setting a franchise record in 2012 with a payroll north of $100 million, the Brewers finished in the red, meaning that they actually lost money this year. (Part of that is because the fans didn’t show up quite as well as they had budgeted for, but wins bring attendance.)
Melvin said, “(The payroll is) coming down. We’ll probably look at (an opening payroll) of $80 million or thereabouts. We want to keep flexibility in case players become available.”
In other words, despite a large chunk of money coming off the books there should be no expectation of a dollar-for-dollar reassignment. That could limit how much the Brewers can do in free agency but it will almost certainly limit the magnitude of what the Brewers can do.
That assumes that Melvin sticks to his initial words, but more on that in a bit.
Melvin was clear in that the Brewers don’t plan to get involved on high-end (in terms of years or dollars) relief pitchers.
“We’re not looking at those kinds of guys. We’d probably be reluctant to go three years with anybody. We might have to do two. David Riske was our last three-year deal for a reliever. That didn’t work out,” said Melvin.
Would left-handed reliever Sean Burnett be a pipe-dream then? Burnett had to debunk a rumor that he was seeking a four-year deal but that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for three.
The starting rotation was mentioned earlier and was brought up to Melvin as well. He stated that with how the contracts worked out with Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf that the Brewers “wouldn’t go three years with a starter. You look at those contracts and they don’t usually work out. Look at all the free-agent players who have been traded the last few years. Free agency gets people excited, but it’s not as effective as people would like to think.”
Does that mean that following a report which I linked to on Twitter the other day that the Brewers are taking themselves out of the market for the aforementioned Jackson and Dempster, both of whom are believed to be seeking deals of a minimum three years? Perhaps.
Melvin stated that the Brewers will probably go with some of their younger players in the rotation but that he understands the dangers of trusting a small sample size.
As for the offense, Melvin admitted (as reported in this space) that contact was made between him and Josh Hamilton’s agent Michael Moye, but Melvin also said that, “I don’t see (a big-ticket signing) happening. If it does, we’d have to be creative with something.”
Melvin added, “You never know how those things work out. I never thought we’d be able to get Aramis Ramirez last year (for what they signed him for). Things change. If major things happen, you have to be prepared to act quickly.”
In other words, Melvin is reminding everyone that you simply can’t use definitives when discussing transactions in Major Leage Baseball. Or, to go the cliched route…Never say never.
Finally, for the bench, Melvin said that they’re in the market “mostly for depth.” He stated that they “may have to go with some of our younger guys” but that “it’s always nice to have an experienced bat on the bench.”
And since a lot of you have reached out via social media as to why I haven’t pass along many rumors in the last few days, Melvin confirmed that he has made no offers to any free agents yet and, as of the time he said so out loud, he didn’t have any serious trade talks going either.
Then again, he’s in Nashville now at the Winter Meetings. It’s made for just those kinds of things.
Stay tuned all week for reaction and analysis to anything and everything that I hear or read related to the Brewers. I’ll pass it along just as soon as I can.
My suggestion? If you aren’t on Twitter or you are and don’t follow me @BrewerNation…now’s one of the best times of the year to take the plunge. I can’t always blog right away but tweeting is much easier to do on the fly.