Doug Melvin Rumors

Front Office Notes: Dombrowski, Chernoff, Avila, Tigers

There’s been plenty of front office turnover this summer, with Dave Dombrowski’s departure from the Tigers’ front office, the beginning of Doug Melvin’s transition to an advisory role with the Brewers and the abrupt resignation of Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (who has since taken a temporary consulting position with the Red Sox).

Here’s the latest buzz pertaining to executives around the league…

  • The Nationals, Blue Jays and Mariners appear to be the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The Blue Jays and Mariners were immediately speculated upon landing spots, as Toronto has long been on the hunt for a president to replace the retiring Paul Beeston, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik’s job security has been questioned in the wake of a disappointing season for the Mariners. The Nationals don’t have an immediate need and seem a somewhat curious fit, given the fact that the well-respected Mike Rizzo currently holds the president of baseball operations title in D.C. The combination of Rizzo and Dombrowski, though, would give Washington a pair of very accomplished baseball minds atop their decision-making pyramid, if the two were to work together.
  • “I’ve had a number of people tell me today they think [Indians assistant GM Mike] Chernoff will be the one to beat,” Peter Gammons replied to the MLB Network’s Chris Russo yesterday when asked who will be the new GM of the Brewers (video link, with Brewers talk beginning at about the 4:00 mark). Gammons also lists Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen as a possibility and notes that he believes Melvin could very well remain on board with the Brewers as a club president.
  • New Tigers GM Al Avila spoke at length with Tony Paul of the Detroit News about his new position. While Avila didn’t want to get too in-depth about the differences between him and his friend/predecessor, Dombrowski, he did tell Paul that the Tigers’ front office will take more of an analytical approach to roster construction. “One thing I will bring different is expanded analytics,” said Avila. “I will tell you that I feel that we have a ways to go to catch up with the industry. We have been making some strides, but we’ll fast-forward a little bit and add to that department. You’ll see a big difference there.” However, Avila also stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between traditional scouting and the statistical component of player analysis. As Paul notes, the presence of J.D. Martinez on the Tigers can be chalked up to traditional scouting, and Avila played a huge role in bringing Martinez to Detroit.
  • Lastly, the Tigers announced three more front office promotions earlier this week. Major League scout Dave Littlefield (the former GM of the Pirates) has been promoted to vice president of player development. Scott Reid has been bumped from special assistant to senior advisor, and Dick Egan is now a special assistant to the executive VP and general manager.

Doug Melvin To Assume Advisory Role; Brewers Begin Search For New GM

The Brewers announced today that longtime GM Doug Melvin will move to an advisory position within the organization, and the team will begin hunting for a new GM immediately (Twitter link). Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that it was Melvin’s decision to begin the transition now as opposed to after the season. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers have hired executive search firm Korn Ferry to organize the team’s pursuit of a new general manager. The priority, according to McCalvy, will be to target younger candidates with knowledge of analytics.

Doug Melvin

Melvin, 63, became Milwaukee’s general manager nearly 13 years ago and prior to that spent eight years as GM of the Rangers. He was the GM in Texas for the team’s first three postseason appearances and helped to construct a pair of playoff teams during his Brewers tenure as well, including a 96-win team that made it to Game 6 of the NLCS against the Cardinals in 2011

As one would expect with such a lengthy tenure at the top of the team’s baseball operations hierarchy, Melvin made a number of notable transactions in his time with the Brewers, including a handful of high-profile trades. In 2008, Melvin acquired CC Sabathia from the Indians in a rental deal that sent Matt LaPortaMichael Brantley, Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson to Cleveland. He swung another deal for an ace in the 2010-11 offseason, landing Zack Greinke from the Royals in exchange for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress (who has, of course, made his way back to the Brewers).

Melvin ultimately traded Greinke away a season and a half later, acquiring Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena in exchange. He’s also architected extensions for Carlos Gomez (three years, $24MM), Ryan Braun (eight years, $45MM, followed by an additional five years, $105MM), Jonathan Lucroy (five years, $11MM) and, in a less successful decision, Rickie Weeks (four years, $38.5MM).

Melvin’s recent transactions have been something of a mixed bag. The Adam Lind-for-Marco Estrada swap has benefited both parties, and the re-signing of Francisco Rodriguez has, to this point, been a solid move. Kyle Lohse made good on the first two years of his three-year, $33MM contract and justified the expenditure despite a poor 2015 season. However, the Matt Garza contract currently looks like a misstep, and recent seasons have seen Cain, Escobar and Odorizzi emerge as very valuable pieces.

This summer, Melvin drew praise for the return for Gomez and Mike Fiers — a four-player package that brought Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, Domingo Santana and Adrian Houser to Milwaukee. He also landed a nice piece from the Orioles when trading Gerardo Parra to Baltimore: right-hander Zach Davies.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Brewers GM Doug Melvin Considering New Role With Club

Brewers GM Doug Melvin is actively discussing a move into a new role within the organization, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported earlier (on Twitter) that he expects Melvin to move into a role similar to that of recently-signed Phillies president Andy MacPhail. Per Haudricourt, that move could come at the end of this year, in time for Melvin to take up his new post for the 2016 campaign — presumably with a new GM serving underneath him.

All said, it appears that noting is imminent, with the organization apparently plotting a measured transition. Melvin has been in discussions with club owner Mark Attanasio for several weeks, says Heyman, about what a new front office structure might look like. Change “could happen” after the end of the current season, per the CBS Sports report.

Milwaukee has had rather a disappointing season and currently carries the league’s second-worst record. The team already dismissed manager Ron Roenicke earlier in the season. But Melvin has been in his post since way back in 2002, and it seems that he’s more likely to shift into a senior capacity than follow Roenicke out of the organization.



Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

Brewers Notes: Draft, Braun, Gomez, Lucroy, Melvin

The Brewers will have the 15th overall selection in next month’s amateur draft and, while there is no consenus top pick, Milwaukee is confident it can land an impact player, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think a little bit more is being made out of (the volatility),” said Vice President of Amateur Scouting Ray Montgomery. “I think the draft has good depth, if it lacks what people might consider a more obvious first pick, or first couple, compared to drafts in the past. But the depth of the draft and the pool of talent, I think, is good.” Montgomery will be overseeing the draft for the Brewers for the first time and does not feel any extra pressure with GM Doug Melvin contemplating a rebuild. “I don’t think Doug’s worried about it, so it’s certainly nothing for me to worry about,” Montgomery told Haudricout. “In terms of adding talent, it’s our job to acquire the best available players, and they’ll work their way through the system the way they should, based on each individual time line.

Here’s more on the Brewers from Haudricourt’s colleague Todd Rosiak, who hosted a recent online chat:

  • Rosiak thinks the Brewers would like to trade Ryan Braun, but it is highly unlikely they will agree to absorb any of the money he’s owed. As a result, their trading partners would certainly be limited to big-market teams, and there would likely be questions regarding Braun’s thumb and his past PED issues.
  • The Brewers have many trade candidates (as explored by MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth), but Rosiak feels Jean Segura may not be one of them. The shortstop provides the team with both cost certainty and growth potential. With the pending retirement of third baseman Aramis Ramirez and the dearth of free agent options, Milwaukee could slide Segura over to the hot corner next year.
  • Rosiak does not see Carlos Gomez re-signing with the Brewers when his contract expires after the 2016 season, so trading him now will maximize their return and the longer they wait the less his value becomes.
  • The Brewers could also receive a massive haul for catcher Jonathon Lucroy, but will most likely rebuff any offers because the franchise does not have a ready replacement.
  • It is telling neither owner Mark Attanasio nor Doug Melvin have been commenting publicly on the GM’s future in the organization. Rosiak envisions a scenario where Melvin is promoted to president and a new general manager is hired.
  • The Brewers lost their edge under Ron Roenicke despite his reputation as a player’s manager. Rosiak notes, in most situations, a looser leash winds up choking the skipper resulting in his dismissal.

 


Central Notes: Melvin, Larkin, Rodon

The Brewers‘ recent firing of Ron Roenicke raises questions about how long they will retain GM Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin is in the final year of his contract, and while there have been no specific indications that owner Mark Attanasio won’t retain him, not much has worked out right for Melvin in the past eight months or so. The team collapsed down the stretch last season, and then a roster that featured most of last year’s key players got off to a terrible start in 2015. One significant move (the addition of Adam Lind) has gone well, and as I wrote this spring, the Brewers’ offseason strategy was mostly defensible, although that was partially because the team’s lack of ready or near-ready young talent would make an aggressive rebuild long and painful. Haudricourt notes that fans are speculating about the possibility that Attanasio and Melvin have already agreed on a new deal for Melvin, but they don’t want to announce it because of how unpopular such a move would be among many fans right now. Here’s more from the Central divisions.

  • The Reds hired Hall of Famer and former superstar Barry Larkin as a roving minor-league infield instructor, but Larkin isn’t looking to get into managing quite yet, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes (with a transcript of a recent chat with the press in Florida courtesy of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Hook, Line and Sinker blog). “I interviewed for the Tampa Bay job. I talked to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski about the Tigers job last year,” says Larkin. “But I just don’t feel like I’m ready for that type of commitment. If I’m going to dive in, I need to be all in, and I’m just not quite at that point yet.” Larkin cites family commitments as a key reason for his reluctance.
  • Third overall 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon made his first big-league start Saturday night in the night game of a doubleheader for the White Sox against the Reds. Rodon was a bit wild, walking four in six innings, but he struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs while making a surprising 108 pitches. The White Sox plan to move Rodon back to the bullpen after tonight’s start in order to keep his innings count low, but tonight’s performance could be a promising indication of what’s to come.

Heyman On The Brewers: Counsell, Lucroy, Segura

In his newest column for CBS Sports, Jon Heyman examines how the Brewers are hopeful that new manager Craig Counsell can help turn the club around, yet GM Doug Melvin has also “already sent out feelers” to other teams if Milwaukee continues to struggle.  Here are more Brew Crew-related notes from Heyman’s piece…

  • Counsell received a strong vote of confidence from Melvin, which included an 18-point e-mail to owner Mark Attanasio arguing why Counsell was the ideal choice to replace Ron Roenicke.  As Heyman notes, the club may have been better served to fire Roenicke after last year’s late-season fade rather than guaranteeing his 2016 option and letting him continue to manage.
  • While Melvin is “planning to consider just about anything in terms of trades,” Jonathan Lucroy and Jean Segura (in that order) are the Brewers’ two most untouchable players.  “I guess you have to be open to everything. But you’d have to be overwhelmed….[Catcher and shortstop] are positions that can take years to fill,” Melvin said.
  • Carlos Gomez is likely the Brewers’ top trade chip, and would undoubtedly generate the most interest from other teams if he’s shopped.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explored Gomez’s trade candidacy in the subscriber-only MLBTR Newsletter.
  • The Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals all seem like fits for Kyle Lohse, rival GMs tell Heyman.  Lohse formerly pitched for the Cardinals and also has ties to Houston, as GM Jeff Luhnow was in the St. Louis front office when Lohse pitched for the team.  The surprising Astros have already been considering starting pitching upgrades, while the Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu) and Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia) are both looking to replace injured starters.
  • Matt Garza is owed roughly $35MM through the 2017 season and has a $13MM club option for 2018 that can vest into a guaranteed year.  With this in  mind, “I’m not sure anyone would want him,” a rival executive said about Garza, who has a 4.58 ERA and unimpressive peripherals over six starts.
  • Scooter Gennett received some interest from the Angels and others during the offseason and could be shopped again to clubs in need of second base help.

Brewers Notes: Attanasio, Melvin, Lucroy, Braun

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio indicated that his scuffling club is looking at all options, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports“Over 11 years, I’ve made some pretty tough decisions and I’m ready to make them again,” said Attanasio. “Whether it’s remodel, retool, rebuild, whatever it takes to bring winning baseball to Milwaukee is what I’m going to do. The organization always comes first to me and for everybody.” While the owner says that all members of the organization must be held accountable, he expressed confidence in GM Doug Melvin — though he also declined to address Melvin’s contract situation.

Milwaukee will face many tough questions over the coming months, and here are a few more notes on their current situation and future outlook:

  • The Brewers are telling other clubs that injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy is not available via trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. It is early, of course, and that stance could presumably always change with the right offer, but Milwaukee is presumably less than thrilled with the prospect of parting with perhaps its highest-value asset. The very same thing that makes Lucroy so appealing to the rest of the league — his top-level offensive and defensive production in an up-the-middle position at a bargain rate for multiple years — also make him an obvious player to build around in either a go-for-it or reloading scenario. Assuming his club option is picked up, the 28-year-old will earn just $12.25MM from the start of this season through 2017.
  • Whatever they may be saying in talks, the Brewers should strongly consider dealing Lucroy, in the opinion of Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That assessment is due in part to the fact that Lucroy’s cheap contract opens up a wide array of possible trade partners, to say nothing of the dearth of other available top-end options at the catching position. Of course, it bears noting that Lucroy is off to a rough start to the year (.133/.216/.178 in 51 plate appearances) and will be sidelined for another few weeks as he rehabs a broken toe. And Martin Maldonado, his quality backup, has also failed to deliver much offensively thus far in 2015.
  • J.P. Breen of Baseball Prospectus examines Ryan Braun‘s lack of productivity, noting that Braun’s ability to handle pitches on the inner third of the plate has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons. That was understandable in 2014, Breen points out, due to a devastating nerve issue in Braun’s thumb that made it difficult for him to even shake hands with another person, let alone play baseball. Braun began starting his swing early in an effort to keep up with fastballs that he could once handle, leaving him susceptible to breaking pitches away. Breen wonders if Braun may still be working to correct some of those bad habits he developed last year. Though he’s still whiffing on inside pitches, Braun has excellent exit velocity and hard-contact numbers, indicating that if he can close the hole in his swing, he could return to his status as a premier threat. However, as Breen concludes, any significant dip in production would mean that Braun likely won’t live up to his five-year, $105MM extension — a contract that begun only this season.

Extension Notes: Cueto, Zimmermann, Duda, Melvin

We just heard that the Angels and Huston Street could continue their efforts to find a new deal before he hits the open market, but the same may not be true of several other prominent free agents-to-be. Here’s the latest:

  • Johnny Cueto and the Reds are not expected to reach agreement, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets, confirming the expectations from recent reports. As Cincinnati takes the field, it appears the start of Cueto’s last year with the club.
  • The same holds true of Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals, who as Morosi tweets never made progress on a new deal that could have kept him in D.C.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that he does not foresee restarting talks with first baseman Lucas Duda, as Matt Ehalt of the Record tweets. Of course, it seems likely that Alderson is merely referring to the notion that the team will not look to re-open talks during the coming season, not that it sees no future possibility of discussing a longer-term arrangement.
  • Meanwhile, it appears that an extension is all but a formality for the Brewers and GM Doug Melvin, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Owner Mark Attanasio says that he is still talking about a new deal with Melvin, with the major question being how long the veteran executive wants to stay at the helm.

NL Notes: Ichiro, Melvin, Rollins

New Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki says being an older free agent is like being an older dog in a pet store, Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal writes. “Amongst all the cute little puppies jumping and tumbling for prospective owners, there’s one who’s a little older, a little more mature, who keeps getting passed over for the more adorable ones,” says Ichiro. “When someone finally comes along and points a finger at him, an undying loyalty is born.” The 41-year-old Ichiro’s offseason training routine helps him stay relevant, Lefton writes. Ichiro works out at the Orix Buffaloes’ home park in Japan, with a pitcher who throws batting practice for him and another player he plays catch with. Ichiro might take 150 swings against live pitching each day in the offseason. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • GM Doug Melvin has recently discussed an extension to his contract with the Brewers, although it’s unlikely he and the team will agree to one before the season starts, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin’s contract expires after the 2015 season. Counting his previous job with the Rangers, Melvin has now been a GM for about two decades, and it sounds like he remains at least somewhat enthusiastic about continuing. “I still think I’m good at what I do and I still enjoy it,” he says. “I like the draft-and-development part of the job and that’s something we’ll always have to do in our market.”
  • The fact that he’s with the Dodgers now doesn’t mean Jimmy Rollins can’t relate to fans who dislike them, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “For a long time – you don’t hear ‘Beat the Dodgers,’ you don’t hear ‘Beat the Lakers,’ even the Clippers now – it’s ‘Beat L.A.,'” says Rollins. “It’s everything L.A. stands for. . . . I’ve heard [it] for the first time on this side, and I was cracking up. Because I know how the crowd feels, the fans feel, on the other side.” This isn’t the first interview Rollins has given about how strange it can feel for a player to spend years with one organization and then abruptly switch to another, but his perspective on a common but little-discussed situation is still refreshing to read.