Milwaukee Brewers Rumors

Milwaukee Brewers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Multiple Teams Change Minor League Affiliations

As Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal writes, yesterday marked a two-week period where Major League clubs are free to negotiate with available minor league organizations. Major League clubs sign player development contracts with minor league organizations much like players will sign contracts with teams. As such, Leventhal notes that the “affiliation shuffle” is akin to free agency for minor league teams. Leventhal’s article provides more insight behind many of the moves and offers quite a bit of detail for those who are curious to read more about this process.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see multiple teams sign deals with new affiliates, and MLBTR will keep track of them here for those that are interested …

Triple-A

  • Fresno (formerly the Giants’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Astros.
  • The Athletics have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Sacramento to Nashville (previously occupied by the Brewers).

Earlier Updates

  • The Dodgers have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (previously occupied by the Astros).
  • The Rockies announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque (previously occupied by the Dodgers).
  • The Brewers have announced that their Triple-A affiliation with Nashville has been terminated by the Sounds.

Double-A

  • The Twins announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga (previously occupied by the Dodgers) after agreeing to a four-year term.
  • The Dodgers announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Tulsa (previously occupied by the Rockies).
  • New Britain (formerly the Twins’ affiliate) has announced that that it has reached a PDC with the Rockies.

Class-A Advanced

  • The Cubs announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Daytona to Myrtle Beach (previously occupied by the Rangers).
  • The Indians announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Carolina to Lynchburg (previously occupied by the Braves).

Central Notes: Aramis, Indians, Perkins

Here’s the latest out of the game’s central divisions:

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin denied a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the team had decided to exercise its end of a $14MM mutual option over third baseman Aramis Ramirez for next season. The option, which comes with a $4MM buyout, has yet to be decided on according to Melvin. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports, Melvin expressed surprise at hearing the report and indicated that he had not discussed the option with either team owner Mark Attanasio or Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer. Ramirez, 36, has had a solid overall campaign and remains an above-average option at the hot corner. Needless to say, Milwaukee’s decision on his option will have important ramifications for the third base market.
  • Though the Indians boast an intriguing group of young starters, GM Chris Antonetti said that the team will look to add more arms in the offseason, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports“We’ve seen it first-hand this year,” Antonetti explained. “The five who started the season for us aren’t the same five who are pitching for us right now.” Also on the docket for the fall is an effort to improve the team’s infield defense, said Antonetti. According to Fangraphs’ measurement of defensive value, Cleveland ranks second to last in all of baseball. (Of course, one potentially positive sign is that newly installed shortstop Jose Ramirez has received stellar marks from advanced metrics, quite the opposite of Asdrubal Cabrera, who he replaced after the trade deadline.)
  • Twins closer Glen Perkins is set to undergo a “complete look” at his throwing arm, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Fresh off of signing a four-year, extension with just over $14MM in new guarantees before the season, Perkins was strong for much of the year. But things have turned south in the last month, and he has now allowed seven earned runs in his last four outings. Perkins missed time due to neck and shoulder discomfort, and since returning has seen the issue extend to the rest of his arm. “We’re going to give him a test on the left arm, see what’s going on there,” said GM Terry Ryan. “He’s got a little soreness, so we’ll get it looked at. His neck is fine.” Ryan said that the team would wait for an assessment before determining a course of action for the rest of the year, though obviously the future is of greater concern: “[Doctors] are going to give him a complete look, whatever that means. I don’t want to be premature here. If it’s severe, we’ve got issues. If it’s not, then we’ll move forward.”

Quick Hits: Velocity, Clark, 2015 Draft, Astros, Pirates

The introduction and development of the radar gun has had a profound effect on baseball, Danny Knobler explores in a piece for Bleacher Report. Pitching speed has always been recognized as a key tool, but its increasing standardization in measurement and emphasis in amateur scouting has played an undeniable role in the velocity explosion at all levels. Speed readings deliver valuable information and come with some downsides, but for better or worse the gun’s influence will continue. Here are a few more interesting recent articles from around the web:

  • Matt Clark‘s decision to gamble a bit and opt out of his minor league deal with the Mets has paid huge dividends for the 27-year-old journeyman, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Now with the Brewers, Clark says he sensed that there was little chance he’d be promoted and elected free agency in June. Bob Skube, Milwaukee’s Triple-A hitting coach, was Clark’s hitting coach with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate at one point and made a pitch for the organization to pursue him when Nashville first baseman Hunter Morris broke his arm. Clark, who spent last season in Japan and had never cracked a big league roster, hit his way to a September callup and has homered in two straight games.
  • Prospect watchers have begun to turn their attention to the 2015 amateur draft, so let’s take a look at the latest. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides a “way-too-early” list of the top 51 prospects, along with some other names to watch. Sitting atop the ranking is high school shortstop and FSU commit Brendan Rogers, with last year’s first overall choice — the unsigned and possibly JuCo-bound Brady Aiken — right behind him.
  • Looking back at recent draft choices, Baseball America’s John Manuel writes that the Astros will need to go to work developing Mark Appel and the recently-acquired Colin Moran to avoid a lot of hard questions about the decision to pass on Kris Bryant last year. Given Moran’s skillset — hard work, polished approach, and quick hands, but not the power and athleticism of Bryant — his best-case scenario might be to join the trajectory of Kyle Seager, says Manuel.
  • The Pirates have enjoyed a distinctive advantage this year in losing few player days to the DL, writes Ben Lindbergh of Grantland. Manager Clint Hurdle praised the team’s strength and conditioning staff, though he admitted he wasn’t sure that there was any one thing the Pirates are doing better than rival clubs. Still, players such as Chris Stewart, Neil Walker and Russell Martin all praised strength and conditioning coach Brendon Huttman. GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t comment on any specific tactics that might be ahead of the curve, stating, “I’d prefer to leave that behind the curtain.”
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports examines the journey of former Arizona State and Notre Dame head coach Pat Murphy, who has transitioned to managing the Padres’ Triple-A club after a controversial exit to his NCAA career. Murphy’s intensity is said to be toned down, and Brown spoke with numerous players who lauded Murphy as one of the best managers they’ve ever had. Veteran reliever Blaine Boyer ranked Murphy alongside Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Bud Black. Brown, like many of Murphy’s players, is of the opinion that the 55-year-old Murphy could eventually be a big league manager.


Reds Acquire Shackelford, Astin To Complete Broxton Trade

The Reds announced that they have acquired right-handers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin from the Brewers to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade. Cincinnati originally sent Broxton to Milwaukee in exchange for a pair of players to be named later on Aug. 31 — the last significant deal before the deadline for newly acquired players to be eligible for postseason play.

Shackelford and Astin ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively, among Brewers prospects heading into the 2014 season, according to Baseball America. However, neither player cracked Milwaukee’s top 20 list on MLB.com’s midseason list.

The 25-year-old Shackelford is the more advanced of the two prospects, as he reached Double-A this season and posted a combined 3.69 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 70 2/3 relief innings between that level and Class-A Advanced. BA felt that he should have reached Triple-A, if not the Majors, this season in their preseason scouting report, but Shackelford’s Double-A struggled (4.86 ERA in 50 innings) may have held him back. BA noted that he can touch 97 with his fastball and gets whiffs on his slider, making him a potential late-inning reliever. They did, however, note that the slider can be inconsistent — something he’ll likely look to improve upon in 2015. However, the fact that he’ll turn 26 next season and has yet to reach Triple-A suggests that Shackelford is far from a sure thing to end up as a consistent piece in the Cincinnati bullpen.

Astin, 23 next month, was the Brewers’ third-round pick in 2013. He served as Arkansas’ closer as the team pushed to the College World Series, and BA noted that while he may not be durable enough to remain a starter, he could move quickly as a reliever. Indeed, Astin posted a 5.55 ERA as a starter this season in 96 2/3 innings, but he turned in a terrific 2.27 ERA in 26 relief innings. Overall, he posted a 4.96 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 1/3 innings at Class A.

While neither prospect is particularly highly regarded, GM Walt Jocketty picked up a pair of arms that could potentially help his bullpen within the next two years, and he shed more than $11MM in salary in the process. To this point, Broxton has done his job for the Brewers, firing four shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks, helping to bridge the gap to closer Francisco Rodriguez.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

NL Notes: Stanton, Wright, Braun, Lester

The Marlins plan to offer Giancarlo Stanton a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in team history, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported back in August that Miami would try to lock up its 24-year-old star for the long term, though the team was not necessarily optimistic of reaching agreement. For his part, Stanton tells Nightengale that he is willing to hear offers, but still wants to see “some progression moving forward.” “It will be interesting to hear what they have to say when the time comes,” he said, “but right now, I’m not worrying about it. I mean, we’re still in this season. When this season is over, then we can start thinking about 2015.”

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Mets third baseman David Wright will be shut down for the rest of the year but is not expected to require surgery on his left shoulder, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reported (via Twitter) on in advance of a team announcement. The club says that Wright has experienced persistent inflammation in his left shoulder, which may go some way to explaining his uncharacteristically average .269/.324/.374 slash this year. The star 31-year-old is owed $107MM over 2015-2020.
  • Ryan Braun of the Brewers has seen his ongoing thumb issues expand to become a broader problem with his right hand, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Though surgical options have been explored, it was determined that none seemed sure enough to warrant the risk. Since a hot start, Braun has seen his numbers dwindle and then fall off a cliff of late. He is still owed $12MM on an earlier extension next year before his five-year, $105MM pact kicks in starting in 2016.
  • Left-handed starter Jon Lester makes sense as a free agent target for the Cubs, argues Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. He is young and sturdy enough to warrant a significant investment, says Rogers, though Chicago can also choose to forego an overpay given the number of solid arms that could be had on the open market in 2016.

NL Notes: Brewers, Thornton, Cuddyer, Anderson

The Brewers‘ recent struggles could lead to firings in Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. The Brewers fired Ned Yost after an ugly two-week stretch in the midst of a contending season in 2008. Now, after spending the majority of the season in first place, the Brewers run the risk of missing the playoffs — they would just miss the second Wild Card if the season ended today. It’s not clear if the Brewers’ skid might cause owner Mark Attanasio to want to make moves involving GM Doug Melvin or manager Ron Roenicke. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Matt Thornton has come up big in the Nationals‘ bullpen since the Nats claimed him from the Yankees, Tom Schad of the Washington Times writes. Thornton has pitched 9 1/3 innings for the Nats so far, striking out eight batters, walking one and allowing no runs in his first stint as a National Leaguer. “Haven’t faced a lot of these guys, so it’s kind of all new,” Thornton says. “But at the same time, they haven’t faced me. So I’m using that to my advantage.” MLBTR readers recently ranked Thornton the fifth most impactful August addition of any team, behind Adam Dunn, Jacob Turner, Jonathan Broxton and Josh Willingham.
  • Rockies manager Walt Weiss would like to see the team re-sign Michael Cuddyer, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. “I would like to see him back here,” says Weiss. “I just think he means so much to our club, in ways that go beyond the stat sheet.” Cuddyer has suffered through an injury-plagued season and will be 36 by the time next season starts, but he’s hit very well with the Rockies, posting a .331/.380/.546 line in 142 plate appearances in 2014 that’s similar to his output over a full season last year.
  • It’s unclear whether the Rockies will pick up Brett Anderson‘s $12MM option, Saunders writes. The option contains a $1.5MM buyout. Anderson has been effective this season, but injuries have limited him to just 43 1/3 innings so far, and he hasn’t topped 100 innings in a season in 2010. The Rockies need to try to figure out if Anderson’s injury troubles are likely to continue, and whether they might be able to lure a better pitcher to Coors — never easy to do — with that $12MM.

Cafardo On Astros, Darvish, Gallardo, Bautista, Kang

The firing of Astros manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley was a clash of old-school baseball versus the new-school of analytics and old-school lost, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. For that reason, Cafardo opines GM Jeff Luhnow’s next hires will need to be data savvy, know their way around a laptop, put numbers ahead of traditional baseball, and accept daily interference. Trembley, who found out he was fired from the ESPN news ticker, wasn’t surprised by the dismissals because there was a disconnect with the front office from “the computer leaks to the draft and the Mark Appel situation where the manager wasn’t told (top prospect) Appel was coming up to throw. I think (owner) Jim Crane nailed it when he said that there was a personality clash and sometimes people just don’t get along.

In other items from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • There is a financial component to placing Yu Darvish on the disabled list. The Rangers can deduct $5,228.75 per day in bonuses over 30 days on the DL and, since the right-hander has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, the savings realized will be nearly $136k on Darvish’s $800K roster bonus.
  • Justin Verlander‘s struggles this year should give teams pause about giving large contracts to older pitchers. Cafardo, however, doesn’t see this cautionary tale dampening the market for Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields because there are franchises which cannot resist the temptation and feel it’s the cost of doing business.
  • Cafardo views the Red Sox as players for the services of free agents Jason Grilli and Justin Masterson this offseason.
  • There is some debate within the Brewers organization about exercising Yovani Gallardo‘s $13MM option for 2015 with some feeling the money might be better spent elsewhere.
  • Expect the Rangers to engage the Blue Jays in trade talks for Jose Bautista, but Cafardo notes Texas may not have the pitching prospects to pry the All-Star slugger away from Toronto.
  • Joel Hanrahan, who suffered a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, will not need another operation and will attempt to continue his comeback in 2015. Hanrahan had signed a $1MM deal with the Tigers in May, but never pitched an inning for the organization.
  • Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang will be posted this winter and should be in line for a substantial contract given the lack of available impact power hitters. The 27-year-old, who measures six feet and 180 pounds, hit 38 home runs and drove home 107 runs in 107 games for Nexen of the KBO. Cafardo notes the Cardinals have shown interest in Kang previously, but a few more teams (not named by Cafardo) are now in the mix.

Outrighted: Gindl, Carp, Triunfel, Savery, Nelson

Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • Brewers outfielder Caleb Gindl has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, according to the MLB.com transaction page. Gindl hit .242/.340/.439 last season in an extended look while Ryan Braun was serving his suspension but struggled in both the Majors and minors this season. Gindl, who turned 26 just four days ago, is a career .273/.345/.434 hitter in Triple-A.
  • Mike Carp has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A by the Rangers, via the MLB.com transactions page. Carp, who had an excellent season for the World Series champion Red Sox in 2013, struggled in both Boston and Texas this season. He collected just five hits in 46 PA with the Rangers prior to his DFA.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted shortstop Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Albuquerque, according to MLB.com transactions page. The 24-year-old hit just .133/.188/.333 in 16 PA with the Dodgers this season and is a lifetime .160/.188/.235 hitter in 87 big league trips to the plate. The former top 100 prospect wasn’t able to deliver on his upside, as evidenced by his career .260/.301/.374 batting line at Triple-A.
  • Also from the MLB.com transactions page, left-hander Joe Savery has been sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento by the Athletics. The 28-year-old fired four shutout innings for the A’s this season, allowing three hits and a walk without a strikeout. He was designated for assignment as the A’s made a series of September callups.
  • Infielder Chris Nelson has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A El Paso by the Padres, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter). The former first-round pick batted .233/.296/.274 in 81 plate appearances with the Padres this season and can become a free agent now or at season’s end if he wishes. Nelson, who has experience at both second and third base, is a lifetime .265/.311/.388 hitter in 901 PA between the Rockies, Angels, Yankees and Padres.

Brewers Scouting Director Bruce Seid Passes Away

Baseball suffered an unexpected and untimely loss yesterday, as Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid passed away suddenly at age 53. The team announced the news today via press release.

“We are stunned and devastated by the news of Bruce’s passing,” said GM Doug Melvin. “He was a great friend to all of us, and no words can describe the sense of loss we feel.” As Melvin went on to note, “a number of current players on our roster were given the opportunity to play Major League Baseball because of Bruce, and he was so proud of them.”

Seid took over Milwaukee’s amateur scouting department in the fall of 2008, replacing Jack Zduriencik when he left to become the Mariners’ GM. He had been a scout and crosschecker with the organization for 11 years before taking over as director.

MLBTR joins many others around baseball in offering its condolences to Seid’s family, friends, and colleagues.