Braden Looper Rumors
While the most attractive free agent starting pitchers are now off of the market, there are still some notable names searching for a home in 2010. One such pitcher is Braden Looper.
For the Brewers in 2009, Looper posted a 5.22 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 while eating 194.2 innings. While standard pitching metrics were less than kind to the 35-year-old, xFIP portrayed him in a better light as he recorded a 4.90 - his best since becoming a starter in 2007.
In September of last year it appeared as though Milwaukee would exercise their side of Looper's $6.5MM mutual option for 2010. Instead, GM Doug Melvin went in a different direction, choosing to buy out the option for $1MM. Although he did not rule out a return at the time, Melvin filled the void by inking Randy Wolf and Doug Davis to help augment the rotation.
In December, Looper made it known that he would like to pitch for the Cubs as his three children attend Chicago-area schools. The Dodgers seemed like a possible fit for the righty until financial troubles limited their spending this offseason. We're now one week into February, and Looper is still without a job.
Let's check out a couple of Dodgers-related tidbits..
- Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets that even though the Dodgers signed Vicente Padilla at a bargain price, GM Ned Colletti says that the club probably could not afford another starting pitcher. It sounds as though Jon Garland and Braden Looper just lost a suitor.
- Unsurprisingly, Buster Olney of ESPN (via Twitter) hears that the Dodgers, as well as the Rangers, may not have the money needed to sign Ben Sheets. Olney also tweets that the Mets and the A's might be in the best position to be aggressive, based on the agents' perception of which teams are still spending.
Braden Looper tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he would pitch for the Cubs. Looper says they're an "appealing" destination, partly because he has three kids going to Chicago schools. Still, the 35-year-old wouldn't mind pitching elsewhere.
"I'm going to look around and see what my options are," Looper said.
So far the righty says discussions have been slow to develop. Looper has pitched his entire 12-year career in the NL and it seems likely he'll stay in the senior circuit.
The Brewers chose not to offer arbitration to any of their free agents, tweets Tom Hauricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Brewers had five Type Bs in Braden Looper, David Weathers, Felipe Lopez, Jason Kendall, and Mike Cameron. A case could've been made for Lopez, but GM Doug Melvin said earlier that they didn't have a spot for him.
The Brewers declined their $6.5MM mutual option on pitcher Braden Looper, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. They'll instead pay a $1MM buyout. Looper posted a 5.22 ERA in 194.6 innings this year; the same kind of financial commitment can probably snag the Brewers someone better. Looper is a Type B free agent, but an arbitration offer is highly unlikely.
MLB.com's Adam McCalvy talked to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who said he'd still consider Looper but wanted to gain flexibility.
Regarding the Brewers' search for starting pitching, we heard yesterday that John Lackey is unlikely while Jarrod Washburn and Doug Davis are possibilities. Today, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has further details.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin didn't seem to rule out Lackey, saying:
"It depends what they’re asking for. I don’t know if it could fit or not. I might have to make some other moves to make it fit."
Haudricourt says Randy Wolf could be a more reasonable target; Melvin met with his agent Arn Tellem at the GM Meetings. Wolf is seeking a multiyear deal. Tellem's agency also represents Joel Pineiro, Rich Harden, and Vicente Padilla, by the way.
Haudricourt adds that Melvin spoke to Steve Canter, who represents Davis. Plus, Scott Boras confirmed the Brewers' interest in Washburn. And what about Braden Looper, who has a $6.5MM mutual option? MLB.com's Adam McCalvy says that's due Saturday.
Another Brewers note: Melvin reiterated that Prince Fielder is not available, and confirmed that he'd like to pursue a long-term extension with his first baseman before the season begins.
All but eliminated from the playoffs, the Brewers are focused on 2010. A few notes about their future...
- Speculation about GM Doug Melvin being fired is "ridiculous," owner Mark Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Attanasio added that he's not pressuring Melvin to make significant changes. He'll also leave the decision on manager Ken Macha up to Melvin.
- Attanasio said trading Prince Fielder for pitching "seems like a cop-out." He's right in saying it makes for "great Internet fodder and speculation." Realistically, Fielder will not be on the market this winter.
- When Braden Looper made his 30th start on September 11th, his mutual option for next year increased to $6.5MM. His 4.89 ERA matches his 4.87 xFIP, so there's no hidden story about Looper's performance. Still, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy thinks the Brewers "will almost certainly exercise their half of the option." Looper said returning to Milwaukee is his first choice, but notes that "the option gives me a little bit of leverage."
- My opinion: for a net of $5.5MM guaranteed, the Brewers should seek a pitcher with more upside than Looper. Erik Bedard, Brett Myers, and even Brad Penny might fit the bill. Looper didn't sign until mid-February this year, and the guarantee was only $4.75MM. The Brewers can find another Looper if they need an innings-eater, so why not decline the option and see how the market plays out?
After a tremendous run last year that resulted in the club's first playoff berth in a quarter-century, the Brewers sat 13.5 GB of a playoff spot coming into today's action, and sport the National League's worst starting rotation thanks to their 5.22 ERA. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, the club has a ton of roster decisions to make this offseason, although GM Doug Melvin says "We've got a lot of decisions, and none of them will be discussed until the end of the season."
Some of the issues facing the Brew Crew this offseason are...
- Impending Free Agents: Trevor Hoffman, Claudio Vargas, Mike Cameron, Felipe Lopez, Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, Frank Catalanotto, and Corey Patterson will all be free agents after the season. The clubs holds a $3.7MM option for David Weathers next year ($400K buyout), and there's a $6.5MM mutual option for Braden Looper ($1MM buyout) that McCalvy says the club "will almost certainly pick up."
- Arbitration Eligibles: Dave Bush, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Seth McClung, J.J. Hardy, Jody Gerut, and Todd Coffey are all eligible for salary arbitration. Coffey, who's been the club's primary setup man, figures to get a nice raise over his current $800K salary.
- Starting Pitching: As I mentioned earlier, Milwaukee sports the NL's worst starting staff. McCalvy reports that "Melvin promised this week that he would be much more aggressive this winter in his search for answers," and that the club might take a "little more chances and risks" than they're accustomed to taking.
The Brewers also have questions about the key up-the-middle positions. They have to sort out the Hardy-Alcides Escobar situation at short, and decide whether to try and retain Lopez or give Weeks another shot at second base duty. Cameron and Kendall have both made it clear they'd like to return, but those decisions will have to wait until the winter.
Milwaukee also must figure out third base, and whether Mat Gamel or Casey McGehee deserves the job. Prince Fielder has the other corner infield spot locked down, and is under contract for $10.5MM next year before being arbitration eligible in 2011, his final year before free agency. McCalvy also mentions that manager Ken Macha faces a lame-duck year next season, and that Melvin is fielding questions about whether another managerial change may be in order.
Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, Mike Cameron and Braden Looper all cleared waivers yesterday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Now, the Brewers can trade those players to any team. Interested clubs will want to complete deals by Monday because players acquired after August 31st aren't eligible to play in the postseason.
Kendall, Cameron and Counsell all hit free agency after the season, while Looper has a $6MM mutual option for next year. According to the latest rankings, Kendall, Cameron and Looper project as Type B free agents and Counsell will likely be unranked. The Brewers could receive draft picks in compensation for departing free agents, but they'd have to be willing to offer arbitration to receive the picks.
The Brewers placed Trevor Hoffman on waivers and he was claimed, but they don't appear likely to trade him.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from one GM who believes Billy Wagner's best financial move may be to accept arbitration after the season. The Red Sox have the right to offer Wagner arbitration, but they'd have to offer over $8MM, so they could choose not to. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:
- Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel have performed well for their respective clubs, so the Rays' decision to trade Hammel worked out for everyone.
- A number of teams are sure to claim LaTroy Hawkins by noon CST today, when his waivers expire, but it's likely the Astros will pull him back. Rosenthal hears that Hawkins is open to returning to the Astros after the season.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels estimates that three quarters of MLB players hit waivers in August, so don't fret about this news if you're a Brewers fan, but Trevor Hoffman, Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Jason Kendall, Braden Looper and Felipe Lopez have all been placed on waivers, according to Rosenthal's source. The Brewers say they don't intend on becoming sellers.