Milwaukee Brewers Rumors

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

Central Notes: Eaton, Henderson, Perez, Jackson, Wood

Today’s biggest transactional news came out of Chicago, as the White Sox continued to set the stage for the future by extending outfielder Adam Eaton. The 26-year-old expressed plenty of excitement for the new deal, though it sounds as if he did not quite enjoy the process that it took to reach agreement, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets“I didn’t sleep much,” said Eaton. “Very stressful. I don’t know how the other side felt. It was long.”

Let’s have a look at a few more notes from the central divisions:

  • Former Brewers closer Jim Henderson was reassigned to minor league camp today as he continues to show slow progress in his return from shoulder surgery, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Henderson has been throwing his fastball at about five to ten miles per hour below his peak mid-to-upper-90s offering from recent seasons.
  • Fellow righty Corey Knebel has also been shipped to the minor league side of camp by the Brewers, writes McCalvy, leaving Chris Perez, Tyler Thornburg, and Rob Wooten to battle over the final pen role. Perez is in camp on a minor league deal and has Article XX(B) protection, meaning that the team will either need to put him on the active roster, pay him a $100K bonus in the minors (and give him a June 1 opt-out date), or release him. The other two players still have options.
  • Cubs skipper Joe Maddon says he is talking with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a creative means to fit both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood on the 25-man roster, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets. Jackson is in the midst of a substantial free agent contract, while Wood is out of options. A transaction would be necessary should either player not make the club out of camp.

Minor Moves: Harris, Robertson, LaTorre

Here are the day’s minor moves, all courtesy of Matt Eddy of Baseball America (Twitter links):

  • Third baseman Brendan Harris is headed to the Tigers on a minor league contract. The 34-year-old has seen action in parts of eight big league seasons, including a run as a regular over 2007-09, but since the close of 2010 has only 117 MLB plate appearances on his ledger. He did put up an interesting .288/.397/.396 slash last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, walking 75 times against just 43 strikeouts.
  • The Marlins have inked lefty Tyler Robertson to a minor league pact. Robertson is a 27-year-old lefty who saw 26 innings of big league action over 2012-13 with the Twins. He threw 17 1/3 frames of 4.15 ERA ball last year at Triple-A with the Nationals organization, striking out 7.3 and walking 2.1 per nine.
  • The Brewers added catcher Tyler LaTorre on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had spent his entire nine-year professional career with the Giants, much of it at the Double-A level. After putting up solid numbers over 2011-12 in the upper minors, LaTorre has took a big step backward in 2013 and last year slased .268/.343/.332 in 216 total minor league plate appearances.

Out Of Options Players: NL Central

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I’ve included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR’s sources.  Today, we’ll take a look at the NL Central.

Cubs: Drake Britton, Welington Castillo, Felix Doubront, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Jacob Turner, Travis Wood

Wood, Turner, and Tsuyoshi Wada were expected to battle for the Cubs’ fifth starter job this spring.  Turner has been shut down due to a flexor strain and bone bruise on his elbow, however, so the Cubs can defer making a decision on him since he won’t even be throwing again until mid-April.  Wood seemed like a winter trade candidate, but Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald explains that with the Cubs’ depth thinning out, he’s the favorite to become the fifth starter.  That would force Edwin Jackson into the bullpen, unless the Cubs offload him or even eat his remaining $22MM.

Of the Cubs’ seven relievers, righties Rondon, Strop, Ramirez, Jason Motte, and Justin Grimm seem locked in.  According to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago last week, the minor league deal for lefty Phil Coke is a “mere formality,” meaning he’s expected to break camp as the team’s primary southpaw reliever.

That leaves one potential spot for Jackson, out of options lefties Britton and Doubront, and a host of other candidates including Wada if his groin injury proves minor.  Doubront has been hit hard in his two spring outings, while Britton has tallied five scoreless innings.  Injuries may clear up the logjam, but something has to give by the April 5th opener.

There’s also last year’s starting catcher Castillo, pushed aside by winter acquisitions Miguel Montero and David RossMark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune wrote about Castillo’s situation a few days ago, noting that Arismendy Alcantara‘s versatility could allow the Cubs to open the season with three catchers.  That might be posturing on the Cubs’ part, however, since the team would be better-served trading Castillo for a fair return.

Reds: Jason Bourgeois

Bourgeois will miss four to six weeks with a fractured shoulder, so he’ll be starting the season on the DL.

Brewers: Mike Fiers, Hector Gomez, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Jimenez

Gomez and Jimenez are hoping to earn the team’s two utility infield jobs, wrote Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel earlier this month.  Two days ago, Haudricourt tweeted he’d be stunned if Jimenez doesn’t make the team.  Luis Sardinas is in the mix as well, but he may face an uphill battle since he has options remaining.

Jeffress appears to have a spot locked up in the Brewers’ pen, wrote Haudricourt and Todd Rosiak yesterday.

Pirates: Pedro Florimon, Stolmy Pimentel, Vance Worley, Jeff Locke, Arquimedes Caminero, Radhames Liz, Mark Melancon, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Pedro Alvarez

Worley and Locke are competing to be the Pirates’ fifth starter, with Worley appearing to hold an edge after Locke was knocked around Tuesday.  The Pirates seem willing to put one of them in the bullpen, but a trade is also possible.

Pimentel, Caminero, and Liz are vying for spots in the Pirates’ bullpen.  Charlie Wilmoth of MLBTR and Bucs Dugout feels it wouldn’t be a surprise for all three to make the team, even if it means optioning superior relievers John Holdzkom and Jared Hughes.  Liz, at least, seems a good bet to get a roster spot after signing a big league deal out of Korea during the offseason.  In an online chat yesterday, Pirates beat writer Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opined that Pimentel seems the most likely of the three to get dropped.

As Wilmoth wrote in February, it’s hard to see where Florimon fits on this team.  Perhaps the waiver claim made sense in November, but he seems likely to find his way off the 40-man soon.

Cardinals: Sam Freeman, Pete Kozma

MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch looked at the situations of Freeman and Kozma in January.  Freeman, a 27-year-old lefty reliever, has continued this spring to exhibit the control problems that have plagued his Major League career.  He’s a trade candidate.  Kozma, known for his defense, appears to be playing his way into making the team, wrote Ben Humphrey of Viva El Birdos yesterday.



Central Notes: Melvin, Garcia, Beckham, Twins

Now that the Brewers have settled Ron Roenicke’s contract situation, the focus has now naturally turned to GM Doug Melvin, whose own deal is set to expire after the 2015 season.  Talking with reporters, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links), Melvin said that he felt Roenicke’s extension was the more important deal to complete first so Roenicke wouldn’t have “lame duck” status hanging over him with the players.  Getting an extension of his own isn’t as important to Melvin at the moment, though he figures he may talk to owner Mark Attanasio about the topic at some point.

Here are some more items from around both the NL and AL Central…

  • Jaime Garcia‘s checkered injury history and high salary ($9.25MM in 2015 plus $500K to buy out his $11.5MM club option for 2016) make him a tough sell as a trade candidate, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes in his breakdown of Garcia’s trade value.  The Cardinals could pay some money to help make a deal happen, though that presumes they want to deal Garcia at all — Miklasz notes that Garcia has pitched well this spring and could be a valuable depth piece for the Cards this season.
  • While the White Sox were looking for a player with Gordon Beckham‘s skillset this winter, GM Rick Hahn tells ESPN Chicago’s Doug Padilla that he initially didn’t consider Beckham “because I didn’t think this was necessarily right fit for Gordon Beckham, individually.”  Hahn felt Beckham might be better suited to getting a fresh start with a club rather than returning to his original team, but after discussing the matter with Beckham and his agent, the infielder assured the GM that he was happy and eager to return to Chicago.  From that same piece, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that the Halos “were competitive” in making Beckham an offer close to the $2MM he received from the Sox.
  • Danny Santana‘s $530K salary for 2015 makes him the highest-paid of the Twins‘ pre-arbitration players, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  Berardino has the full list of salaries for all 17 Minnesota pre-arb players.

Brewers Exercise Ron Roenicke’s 2016 Option

The Brewers have announced that they exercised their club option on Ron Roenicke’s contract, guaranteeing the manager’s deal through the 2016 season.  It was almost exactly a year ago that the club picked up Roenicke’s option for the 2015 and added that 2016 option year to his deal.

In four years as Milwaukee’s manager, Roenicke has led the team to a 335-313 (.517) record, highlighted by an NL Central title and a trip to the NLCS in 2011.  Despite three winning seasons in four years under Roenicke, however, 2011 remains the club’s last postseason appearance.  The Brewers led the Central for much of last season before fading down the stretch.  In exercising Roenicke’s option now, both the team and the manager can forego questions about his status until later in the season, though it’s fair to wonder if Roenicke could be on the hot seat if the Brewers aren’t contenders.

With Roenicke’s deal settled, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believes that an extension could also be forthcoming for GM Doug Melvin, who is entering his last year under contract.


NL Notes: Epstein, Diamondbacks, Brewers

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has nothing to report about whether he might soon receive an extension, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes. “That’s a private matter,” says Epstein. “I look at it and the club looks at it like this is going to be a longer-term marriage, and we’re not concerned about the fact there is no extension.” Epstein’s contract ends after 2016. With salaries for big-name executives increasing (Sullivan points out that Andrew Friedman got five years and $35MM from the Dodgers), Sullivan wonders if Epstein could go elsewhere after his contract expires if the Cubs’ rebuild pans out as most fans hope. Here are more notes from the National League.


Central Notes: Rosen, Robertson, Rodriguez

The Indians announced that former star third baseman Al Rosen died last night. He was 91. “He was an inspiration to us all and had a special presence, strength and intellect,” says Indians president Mark Shapiro, calling Rosen’s competitiveness and toughness “legendary.” Rosen hit .285/.384/.495 over a ten-year big-league career spent entirely with the Indians. His best season came in 1953, when he hit .336/.422/.613, won the AL MVP award and missed a Triple Crown by one point of batting average. Injuries ended his playing career early, but he went on to become president and chief operating officer of the Yankees (1978-79), then became president and GM of the Astros (1980-85) and Giants (1985-92). Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The White Sox paid $46MM for closer David Robertson, but they weren’t planning on spending heavily on a closer if they didn’t get him, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes. Robertson was the specific player they wanted, and if they hadn’t gotten him, they would have developed a closer internally. “I still feel strongly that we have a very solid track record in terms of that development, whether it’s (Bobby) Jenks or (Sergio) Santos or (Addison Reed) or whomever else through the years, like Keith Foulke before that,” says GM Rick Hahn. “And that’s going to continue to serve us as we build out the bullpen from the back in front of David.”
  • Reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who officially signed with the Brewers Saturday, turned down more money elsewhere to return to Milwaukee, Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel tweets. His decision to sign with the Brewers was primarily about his comfort with pitching for them, not about finances, he says. 2015 will be the fifth consecutive season in which Rodriguez will have spent at least part of the year with the Brewers.

Brewers Re-Sign Francisco Rodriguez

The Brewers have announced that they’ve signed closer Francisco Rodriguez to a two-year, $13MM deal with an option for 2017. The Scott Boras client will receive $3.5MM in 2015 and $5.5MM in 2016, with $2MM in deferred salary and a $2MM buyout on the option. That option will cost either $6MM and $8MM, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals At $13MM, Rodriguez will land just shy of the $14MM that MLBTR predicted before the start of the offseason, though the option structure had to be agreed upon to achieve that. The deal appears to slot in fairly sensibly among recent contracts for similar-quality relievers. Only the younger Luke Gregerson landed a three-year deal (at a $6MM AAV), while Koji Uehara ($18MM — just before hitting the market), Sergio Romo ($15MM), and Pat Neshek ($12.5MM) all got significant guarantees on two-year pacts.

Rodriguez, 33, has spent most of the past four seasons in Milwaukee. All said, he owns a 3.11 ERA over his 193 2/3 frames with the Brewers. He has maintained double-digit strikeout-per-nine rates over the last two years in addition to an excellent K%-BB%. Though FIP has been down on Rodriguez’s work in recent campaigns, other ERA estimators like xFIP and SIERA view him as a 3.00 or better performer.

One potential knock on Rodriguez — the many miles on his otherwise relatively young arm — has a positive side as well. Rodriguez has been exceptionally durable, putting up an average of 69 innings running all the way back to 2003. And he still delivers his fastball in the same general, low-90s range that he has found success with in the past.

In nailing down the closer role in Milwaukee and taking Rodriguez off of the market, the signing goes a long way to clarifying the remaining relief market. For one thing, it leaves Rafael Soriano as the undisputed best free agent still available. For another, it takes away the most obvious trade match for the Phillies and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the signing, length, and presence of an option (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the total guarantee on Twitter. Haudricourt tweeted the annual breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dontrelle Willis To Retire

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, who was in camp with the Brewers on a minor league deal, has informed the Brewers that he will retire, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. A neck injury has slowed him this spring, and the former Rookie of the Year had yet to get into a game.

Willis beat out Scott Podsednik and Brandon Webb for the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year Award at the age of 21 and helped the Marlins to their World Series victory that season. In his first four years in the league, the “D-Train” turned in a strong 3.44 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9. Though he reached the 200-inning mark for a third straight season in 2007, however, Willis’ ERA spiked to 5.17, and he was traded to the Tigers alongside Miguel Cabrera that winter. Willis’ career never got back on track after that point, however, as the southpaw worked just 199 innings over the 2008-11 seasons, pitching to a 6.15 ERA with more walks than strikeouts.

Since the 2011 season — the last that he pitched in the Majors, Willis has pitched for minor league affiliates of the Giants (twice), Reds, Orioles and Angels in addition to a pair of stints in the independent leagues. He’ll retire with a 4.17 ERA in 1221 2/3 Major League innings and over $40MM worth of career earnings, per Baseball-Reference.com. We at MLBTR wish Willis well in his post-playing days.


Central Reliever Notes: Robertson, K-Rod, Bard

New White Sox closer David Robertson discusses his decision to go to Chicago with ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick“I’m here for a reason,” Robertson said. “I want to win some ballgames and get back to the postseason. Chicago likes a winner, and I want to be a part of it.”

Here are a few more quick notes out of the game’s central divisions:

  • Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez has now received his visa and will be on his way to camp in short order, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports on Twitter. That is good news for Milwaukee, which now has a much greater financial stake in K-Rod than it has over the past two seasons.
  • Daniel Bard‘s comeback effort with the Cubs appears to be showing some promise. As MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports, the 29-year-old threw a simulated game on Sunday for the first time this spring. “I haven’t felt this good in so long,” said Bard. Indeed, the former Red Sox relief ace was working into the upper 90s with his fastball today, ESPN’s Rick Sutcliffe tweets. Muskat takes a deeper look at Bard’s trials over recent years in an interesting piece that details the physical and mental developments that have helped boost him in camp thus far.