a.k.a. “So, about that tweet…”
During the morning on Tuesday, I tweeted out the following:
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) December 9, 2014
I promised to expound on it here on the blog because of the nuance involved.
Based on a Nick Cafardo report from prior to the Winter Meetings that said that the Brewers were showing interest in Allen Craig, I reached out to a source who confirmed that the sides had talked about Craig and that Gerardo Parra was a name that came up in those discussions. They were characterized as “preliminary at best” (my wording) but as something that had been discussed.
In addition, it was shared that the Red Sox had inquired about Yovani Gallardo. It wasn’t stated when, but it would make sense if it was in the same pre-Winter Meetings conversation. That would be in line with Doug Melvin’s public comments that as of the end of the day Tuesday, the Brewers contingent hadn’t met with any other team’s representatives in San Diego. Melvin has since admitted to meeting with a team on Wednesday, but wouldn’t say which.
A possible return from the Red Sox was not known (or at least not shared) by my contact. My own deductive thought process believes that the Red Sox probably were and are making many exploratory calls on starting pitchers potentially available in trade as they (correctly, it turns out) expected that they might lose out on Jon Lester in free agency.
The Gallardo option, real or not, it felt to me, was not a top option for the Red Sox…
…and chatter from the Winter Meetings seems to have supported that idea as the Sawx have been linked to Wade Miley (“talks broke down”) and others today. That’s why I tweeted this on Wednesday morning…
If Wade Miley goes to Boston (as is said close by @jonmorosi), that’d basically eliminate one of the two things I heard. Write up tonight.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) December 10, 2014
So for now, it’s quiet as kept for the Brewers. Doug Melvin told reporters during his Wednesday evening briefing that he anticipates finding bullpen pieces later in the off-season once prices begin to come down.
Doug Melvin plans to wait to fill out the bullpen. Thinks there will be talent, value available later — like Neshek, Duke last yr. — Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 11, 2014
And it has also been echoed by Mark Attanasio that the Brewers aren’t really in much of a position for major free agents as they are pushing the limits of their budget.
With a payroll projected to approach $110mm, #Brewers are near the high end of an acceptable range over a 10-year period, Attanasio said.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 10, 2014
So, in all the Brewers are beginning to make Winter Meetings contacts but haven’t yet consummated any deals. With Melvin telling reports that he intends to pass in at least the MLB portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, the Brewers could very well leave San Diego with no transactions on the books.
It definitely helps that Melvin & Co. brought in Adam Lind early this off-season and retained Aramis Ramirez. Even though it doesn’t, the Brewers could field a capable 25-man roster if the season started tomorrow.
Before fretting, keep in mind that there are still plenty of shopping days until P&C.
***UPDATE*** 9:13pm CT ***UPDATE***
I now see this tweet from Jon Heyman, saying the Wade Miley has been acquired by the Red Sox, so I’d guess that the Yovani Gallardo chatter will never result in anything, let alone ever be confirmed as true.
Here is Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Monday from Baseball’s Winter Meetings…
…and here is field manager Ron Roenicke from Orlando as well.
As I was sitting here writing up my Day 1 recap of the Winter Meetings, my phone buzzed.
What it said when I checked it was that the Brewers are progressing down one road thereby forcing the issue on another front burner topic.
As reported by more than a couple of people earlier today, representatives of the Milwaukee Brewers did touch base with the representatives of the New York Mets. Here’s where things are:
The Brewers are one of two teams “left standing” (as it was worded to me) in talks with the Mets to potentially acquire 1B Ike Davis in trade. Despite pressure on my part for additional information (Who is the other team? What’s on the table for Davis?), those details weren’t offered in return.
This means the following things to me in regards to Corey Hart and the position of first base for the Brewers in 2014:
- They have prioritized the position, not just the player.
- They want a decision from Hart soon. This is what I’ve been touting as “leverage” against the player. You can’t simply let Hart sit and play teams off of each other for a week or more driving up prices.
- They wouldn’t have gotten as far down the road on acquiring Ike Davis as it sounds like they are unless they viewed him as a viable alternative should they be spurned by Hart.
To my source, it feels like it’s nearing “(crap) or get off the pot” time for Corey Hart with concern to the Milwaukee Brewers.
In my opinion, the Brewers prefer Hart to return over importing a different player, however they aren’t going to held over the coals either. There are some advantages to Davis though. He’s controllable, six years younger than Hart, cheaper, and could be a bounce back candidate coming off of such a poor season that he was demoted to Triple-A at one point.
You can expect a little push back from Hart’s people as they work to field all of the offers that they want to, but Doug Melvin and the Brewers simply cannot go into 2014 with the same kinds of questions at first base that presented themselves once Hart, Mat Gamel, and Taylor Green all succumbed to season-ending injuries before Opening Day.
Expect Melvin to get things going.
Now, back to the writing up the day’s full recap…
Whilst at the Winter Meetings, the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t actually acquire a single player. They lost one in the Rule V Draft Thursday morning but that was the extent of player transactions which were completed completely within the four-day span in Nashville.
The Brewers signed one player to a MiLB contract but according to Gord Ash, that was actually accomplished “this past weekend” prior to the Winter Meetings. It came together both because the Brewers provide a lot of opportunity with its currently thin bullpen and because the player lives in Nashville and decided that if it was necessary for him to pitch in Triple-A in 2013, it may as well be at home with the Brewers affiliate Nashville Sounds.
As for the official four day conference, the Brewers made no moves. But no one should take that to mean that they got nothing accomplished.
Described as “busy” but just with nothing done yet, the Doug Melvin’s contingent made and received calls, met with agents, reviewed players, discussed terms for potential contract offers, and generally conducted a fair about of business.
Going home empty-handed when several players the Brewers reportedly targeted and/or were a fit for what the Brewers need went off the board has left some fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Before resigning yourself to believing that, as one fan put it to me, the Brewers “won’t get anyone worth a damn this winter”, I implore you to think about what was done over the last week.
Yes, the Brewers want a left-handed reliever. Ron Roenicke has said he doesn’t need a lefty just to have a lefty, but more than one person fashioned their desire as a “focus”. Would you really have wanted Melvin to commit three years to any reliever (how’d David Riske work out for us again?) or pay a glorified LOOGy an average salary around $5 million? As I said yesterday, discretion has proven the better part of valor on more than one occasion throughout history.
Another example of the best laid plans not always working out: The Brewers were tied to Jason Grilli early on in the week with Doug Melvin telling reporters that he had talked to Grilli’s agent about the free agent right-handed relief pitcher. I reported that the Brewers were discussing terms of an offer to present. Ron Roenicke stated that the team is definitely interested in him. Then Grilli narrows his options down to a handful of teams, excluding the Brewers, and Melvin turned on his heel and said that they hadn’t talked to Grilli’s agent all week. Some fans take that at face value and think that the Brewers didn’t do anything regarding Grilli, but that simply isn’t the case. What they did do just didn’t work out. (I plan on analyzing this situation further depending on how busy the news wire is over the next few days, so keep an eye out for that.)
Bottom line about the Winter Meetings though is that while not much may have gotten done as the market awaits the outcomes of several situations (Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, the rumored multi-team deal involving Justin Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera, et al) plenty still went on.
Speaking of Hamilton, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass along a tweet from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. It was posted right around the time when people began talking about the rumored contract discussions surrounding Hamilton being about 3-4 years and averaging somewhere between $20-$25 million annually. Here’s the tweet:
One exec thinks #brewers are still “laying in the weeds” on Josh Hamilton — if Doug Melvin can find a way to move some $$
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 6, 2012
So yes, the rumor that refuses to go away is still very much around. With this, coupled with the talk about the Brewers being willing to “listen” on Corey Hart to free up money if necessary, and grouped with Gord Ash’s comments from early in the week about how the only problem with bringing Hamilton to Milwaukee is money…
Yeah, well, ’tis the season for speculation, reasoned or otherwise.
Final piece of news to pass along is that the Brewers’ projected starting shortstop at Double-A Huntsville, Hector Gomez, was injured seriously enough in a winter league game that he could miss significant time in 2013.
#Brewers AA shortstop Hector Gomez suffered serious groin injury in winter ball and faces surgery that could knock him out for much of 2013.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 6, 2012
This could lead to the Brewers ramping up a search for a minor league shortstop. They’re already looking for an upgrade at backup shortstop with the parent club.
So again, there’s plenty for Melvin and the Brewers to accomplish between now and February 12th but there’s also plenty of time right now for it all to happen.
Enjoy the holiday season and stay tuned as we’ll bring you all the news that breaks surrounding the team.
Read all about the Winter Meetings here!
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.
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.