Milwaukee Brewers Rumors

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NL Central Notes: Cubs, Brewers, Bourjos

The Cubs have backed out of their $1M deal with Dominican third baseman Christopher Martinez due to an unknown problem with his physical, Baseball America’s Ben Badler writes. The Cubs made Martinez a new offer of $50K, but he rejected it. Martinez was one of a huge number of high-profile signings for the Cubs in the international signing period that began last month. As Badler notes, this isn’t the first time a noteworthy contract with an international signee has fallen apart due to health concerns — the Blue Jays, for example, rescinded an $800K deal with Venezuelan infielder Luis Castro in 2012, and Castro later signed with the Rockies. Here’s more from the NL Central.

  • The Brewers are only beginning their search for a GM to replace Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. It’s unclear at this point if they will hire someone within the organization or from outside it, and any speculation is premature at this point.
  • The Cardinals have had a string of injuries in their outfield, but Peter Bourjos remains glued to their bench, as Jenifer Langosch of writes. Even with Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk and Matt Holliday out, and with Jason Heyward dealing with a minor injury, Bourjos hasn’t played much, with the team lately favoring Tommy Pham in center. Pham had been hitting well for Triple-A Memphis. “[We are] seeing if we can catch a little lightning from what he was doing in Memphis, and that does create a tough situation for Bourjos to get going,” says manager Mike Matheny. With Bourjos still on the big-league roster, he hasn’t had as many opportunities to get in a groove. He’s hitting .214/.312/.329 this season, and as Langosch notes, he hasn’t had a hit since July 19.

Twins Acquire Neal Cotts

The Twins have acquired lefty Neal Cotts from the Brewers, Milwaukee announced on Twitter. Milwaukee will receive a player to be named later or cash in the deal.

Minnesota was obviously the team that won the waiver claim for Cotts, as was reported earlier today. The 35-year-old bolsters a pen that was already struggling before an injury to closer Glen Perkins further reduced its depth. And Minnesota’s other two pen lefties — Brian Duensing and Ryan O’Rourke — have not been very effective.

Cotts has looked like a pure lefty specialist this year, holding opposing lefties to a .185/.230/.346 slash while being tagged to the tune of a .847 OPS by right-handed hitters. But he’s actually posted very neutral platoon splits over his career, and was significantly better against righties last season.

Adding Cotts to a club that remains in the Wild Card hunt will tack on $721K to the Minnesota payroll this year, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press calculates (Twitter link). For the Brewers, they’ll save that amount, pick up the PTBNL (or additional cash), and open a roster spot for the just-claimed Cesar Jimenez, who may well have been added with a deal in mind.

Brewers Claim Cesar Jimenez

12:59pm: Philadelphia has announced that the Brewers have claimed Jimenez.

12:43pm: The Brewers have claimed left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez off outright waivers from the Phillies, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). Jimenez was designated for assignment by Philadelphia last night.

The waiver claim of Jimenez may indicate that Milwaukee feels confident that it can work out a trade of fellow southpaw reliever Neal Cotts, who has reportedly been claimed on revocable trade waivers by an unknown club.  Or, Milwaukee may simply want to add some depth in the event that Cotts is dealt elsewhere. If assigned to Triple-A, Jimenez could join the big league club in short order, as rosters are set to expand on Sept. 1. In announcing the claim, the Brewers did note that Jimenez’s assignment is still TBD.

Jimenez, 30, has been up and down with the Phillies over the past three seasons despite solid bottom line results. Though he does have some control issues, he’s delivered a 2.48 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 innings with Philadelphia dating back to 2013. In particular, he’s been tough on lefties in that span, holding them to a .148/.233/.231 line (over a span of 60 plate appearances).

Jimenez has three years of big league service already under his belt, so if he joins the big league roster now or in September, he’ll have some time to audition for the 2016 roster and convince Milwaukee that they want to go through the arbitration process with him his offseason.

Unknown Team Claims Neal Cotts On Revocable Waivers

Brewers left-hander Neal Cotts has been claimed on revocable waivers by an unknown team, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Rosenthal notes that it seems unlikely Cotts made it through the National League.

Cotts, 35, is in the midst of a solid season with the Brewers, having pitched to a 3.28 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 49 1/3 innings. FIP paints a more pessimistic picture, although that mark is skewed by a fluky 17 percent homer-to-flyball ratio that is well out of line with Cotts’ career norms. Cotts has been highly effective against left-handed hitters in particular, limiting same-handed opponents to a .185/.230/.346 batting line and striking out 27 percent of them (24 of 89).

Somewhat coincidentally, Cotts was claimed on trade waivers nearly one year ago to the date — Aug. 20, 2014 — also by an unknown club. Ultimately, a trade did not occur, and Cotts hit the open market after his season with the Rangers ended. He would eventually land with Milwaukee on a one-year, $3MM contract, and he’s still owed about $754K of that sum. The Brewers will have 48.5 hours to work out a trade with Cotts, and if no deal is struck in that time, they can pull him back off waivers.

For a refresher on how the August trade process works, check out MLBTR’s August Trade primer.

Brewers Promote Domingo Santana

The Brewers announced that they’ve recalled top prospect Domingo Santana from Triple-A Colorado Springs. (’s Adam McCalvy had tweeted prior to the announcement that Santana could be on his way to the bigs.) Acquired last month from the Astros as part of the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers blockbuster, Santana ranks 83rd on’s list of Top 100 prospects.

This will not be the 23-year-old Santana’s first taste of Major League action, as he tallied 20 games with the Astros over the past two seasons before coming over to Milwaukee in the trade. Santana hit .256/.310/.462 in 14 games with Houston earlier this season and has delivered excellent production at the Triple-A level all season between both organizations. Though his numbers come with the usual Pacific Coast League caveat (the league is an exceptionally hitter-friendly environment), Santana’s .333/.426/.573 batting line is nonetheless impressive.

Santana will take the roster spot of injured right-hander Tyler Cravy, though he seemingly will also be auditioning to lock down a long-term role in a Brewers outfield that is at least somewhat in transition following the departure of Gomez. Though Santana has played primarily in the corner outfield as a minor leaguer, and his future is likely to be in right or left field, he does have experience in center field as well, where Milwaukee has a more immediate need.

From a long-term perspective, the Brewers seem to have three big-league-ready assets for two corner outfield spots. Ryan Braun is, of course, under contract through the 2020 season at an average of $19MM per year. And while Khris Davis has had his struggles this season, he’s homered nine times in his past 35 games (29 starts), albeit with low batting average (.224) and OBP (.306) marks. The team’s corner outfield situation though, will seemingly be one of many situations that the Brewers’ new general manager will have to sort out this winter. A move from the outfield to first base for Braun has been discussed in the past, but neither he nor Davis has ever played a professional game at first base.

Looking more toward the short-term, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that the Brewers do have an interleague series against the Indians coming up that will be played in Cleveland, giving manager Craig Counsell the opportunity to work all three right-handed bats into his lineup by adding a DH possibility. And, with rosters expanding on Sept. 1, Counsell and the Brewers won’t have to worry about keeping too many corner options on the active roster for long.

Front Office Notes: Dombrowski, Sox GM, Dipoto, Brewers

Following a 45-minute introductory press conference for new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald provided a rundown with some highlights. Dombrowski was blunt in stating that the Red Sox need to find some pitching, specifically stating his affinity for power arms. He also noted that a top-of-the-rotation arm is something he’d prefer to bring into to the fold. “Normally, if you’re going to have a world championship club, you need to have a No. 1 type of guy,” Dombrowski explained. He also addressed the team’s GM search. When asked about why he needs a general manager, when it’ll be Dombrowski who has the final say, the veteran executive replied, “This is a big market. There’s a lot going on, day in and day out. We have a lot of expenditure at the major-league level, pursue talent aggressively all over the globe. I think if you get the right person on board with you, if you can get that person and be in sync with them, that can only be helpful.” Dombrowski also touched on his familiarity with analytics as well as the fact that he doesn’t necessarily feel the need to make sweeping changes to a front office that already has “a lot of good people” with “good reputation.

A few more front office notes from around the league…

  • After speaking with multiple industry sources, Sean McAdam of CSN New England writes that four candidates for the Red Sox’ GM opening include former Braves GM Frank Wren, former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, former Angels GM/current Red Sox advisor Jerry Dipoto and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler. Wren has been oft-mentioned in the past few days, and O’Dowd has also popped up more recently in reports. Regarding Eppler, McAdam writes that he’s blocked in New York by Brian Cashman, and many expect him to land a GM job elsewhere this winter.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to one rival executive who said he would be “shocked” if the Dombrowski hired anyone other than Wren to serve as his new general manager (Twitter link). Of course, in the above-linked piece from Lauber, he writes that Dombrowski is in the early stages of compiling a list of candidates, and the Sox have assured the commissioner’s office that they’ll be interviewing minority candidates in their search.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links) that there’s some industry buzz that Dipoto is on the Brewers’ radar as they look for a new GM. Milwaukee is said to be looking for a younger, more analytical general manager following Doug Melvin’s announcement that he’ll transition to an advisory role. Crasnick also notes that there’s some speculation that Cherington would be a good fit for Milwaukee’s GM vacancy.

Quick Hits: GM Turnover, Williams, Zduriencik, Prospects

Baseball has experienced intense turnover in its front offices of late, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes in a column today, and there could be more to come. Nightengale cites Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Phillies, Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners, and Walt Jocketty of the Reds as candidates for dismissal. The frequency of change represents a “new state of the game,” argues Nightengale.

  • The Mariners could end up bringing in White Sox president Kenny Williams to head its front office, Nighengale reports. But Williams may also be in the running to become the new president of the Blue Jays. Reds special assistant Kevin Towers also increasingly seems to be an option for Seattle, Nightengale adds on Twitter.
  • Zduriencik says that he pays no heed to the rumor mill, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Though he’s aware that there is chatter that he could be vulnerable, the Mariners general manager explains that he can’t let that affect his work. “I’ve got eyes,” said the seven-year veteran GM. I can see what’s going on here. I know what has not worked and what should be working and isn’t. For me to focus on any outside distractions (is non-productive).” Zduriencik stressed that he still believes in the talent base he’s compiled, explaining: “I think when you start to piece it together, there are things we need to do going forward, but I do think that there are some really solid pieces there.”
  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides an overhauled, mid-season look at the game’s best prospects. He breaks down a series of different prospect classes. One of those is his list of the game’s premium pre-MLB players, which is made up of the 26 names who separated themselves from the pack. The usual suspects sit atop that list, but there are some quick-rising players as well, including shortstops Orlando Arcia (Brewers, #8), Franklin Barreto (Athletics, #14), and Trea Turner (Nationals, #15), outfielders Bradley Zimmer (Indians, #21) and Gleyber Torres (Cubs, #23), and Rays lefty Blake Snell, who shot all the way up to the 16th slot. McDaniel also lists the year’s newly-emerging prospects, the newly-professional crop of players added over the summer, and the impressive list of young players who no longer qualify as prospects.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America takes a closer look at one such swiftly-rising prospect, Nationals outfielder Victor Robles. The 18-year-old drew the attention of the organization because of his quick-twitch athleticism and high energy, and the club’s $225K bonus has paid out amply so far. It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth a read for any prospect hounds or Nats fans.

David Denson Becomes First Active MLB-Affiliated Player To Come Out Publicly As Gay

History was made recently when David Denson, a minor leaguer in the Brewers system, revealed his orientation to teammates.  Now, after relaying his story to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the first baseman is now the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to publicly reveal he is gay.

Denson had an impromptu coming out party just weeks after joining the Brewers’ rookie affiliate in Montana when a teammate jokingly referred to him using a derogatory term for a gay male.  The teammate didn’t know that the 20-year-old was actually gay, but Denson decided right then to make his announcement, as Haudricourt writes.  Soon, the crowd around Denson built to the point where he was addressing most of the clubhouse.  By the end of his speech, his teammates offered their support.

Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” the California native recalled to Haudricourt. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’

Brewers president and GM Doug Melvin released the following statement earlier today regarding Denson, writing:

David is a highly-respected member of the Milwaukee Brewers family, and he is a very courageous young man. Our goal for David is to help develop him into a Major League player, just as it is for any player in our system, and we will continue to support him in every way as he chases that dream.”

Denson, as detailed in Haudricourt’s article, went through bouts of depression before finally opening up to his teammates and members of the Brewers’ minor league affiliate.  After coming out, Denson says that he is greatly relieved and hopes that his story will encourage others in a similar situation to take that same step.

Cafardo On Chapman, D’Backs, Utley

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looked at several managers who could be out of a job this winter.  Among the skippers listed is Nationals manager Matt Williams, who has come under fire at times for his in-game decisions.  Still, in his defense, Cafardo notes that Williams has had to deal with poor performances by players like Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth, not to mention injuries.  Other situations to monitor include the Reds (Bryan Price), Phillies (Pete Mackanin), Tigers (Brad Ausmus), and Mariners (Lloyd McClendon).  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • When the D’Backs and other clubs called on Aroldis Chapman at the deadline, the Reds were asking for an “incredibly unrealistic” return, according to one GM who spoke with Cafardo.  “I couldn’t believe it,” the GM said of the asking price for the closer.  Still, it sounds like Reds GM Walt Jocketty will at least listen on him this winter and the price tag could be more palatable for interested teams.  “I think teams would give up three very good prospects for him,” said one AL GM, “but I think that’s as far as it would go.”  Recently, Jon Heyman of wrote that many in baseball are questioning Jocketty’s decision to hang on to Chapman past the July trade deadline.  Heyman also noted that Arizona could pursue him once again this offseason.
  • As of Friday, the Giants had no idea how their pursuit of Phillies second baseman Chase Utley would go.  GM Bobby Evans acknowledged over the weekend that he’s still in pursuit of Utley, but one has to wonder how far they’re willing to go with Joe Panik on the verge of returning.
  • If the Nationals wind up replacing Ian Desmond this winter, they have a very capable replacement on deck in Trea Turner.  “He’s a baseball player,” one veteran AL scout said of Turner. “He’s going to be an All-Star player in the big leagues. I don’t see how he misses. He has great instincts for the position and the game in general. He’s got those [Dustin] Pedroia qualities.”  Turner, rated as the No. 65 prospect in baseball heading into the 2015 season, is hitting .306/.349/.422 at Triple-A Syracuse.
  • Nationals director of player development Doug Harris could emerge as the frontrunner for the Brewers‘ GM job, Cafardo writes.  Doug Melvin, who has stepped down as president/GM to take on an adviser role, was the GM in Texas while Harris was an exec there.
  • As team president Theo Epstein enters his walk year in 2016, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is expected to start discussing a new deal with him soon.   If he can’t offer him enough money to stay in Chicago, Cafardo wonders aloud if he could go elsewhere or maybe even circle back to the Red Sox.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hamels, Cain, Girsch, Utley

The Phillies actually preferred the Astros offer for starter Cole Hamels, but the lefty ultimately used his no-trade protection to block the trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Included in the rejected deal were outfield prospect Brett Phillips and pitcher Josh Hader, both of whom went to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez trade. The Astros may have been willing to guarantee Hamels’ fourth year, but he ultimately decided against the option.

  • The Royals will have a tough time re-signing several key players. Lorenzo Cain might be the easiest, but he’ll first want to see how Jason Heyward performs on the free agent market. While Heyward is four years younger than Cain, the average annual value “could be instructive” per Rosenthal. Cain is under control for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon can opt out after this season, and he looks like a lock to do so. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both clients of Scott Boras, are also under club control for two seasons.
  • Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch was a candidate for the Padres GM job opening last year. That posting was eventually filled by A.J. Preller. Girsch may be considered for other top jobs, but the Cardinals hacking scandal may put a damper on his market.
  • Chase Utley will use his no-trade rights to pick his next team. Per Rosenthal, Utley may not make an obvious decision. For example, he may or may not be interested in playing for his home town Giants. As was reported repeatedly over the past few days, Utley will seek to find a home where he’ll continue to play regularly both this season and next.