Milwaukee Brewers Rumors
The Brewers' Kyle Lohse visited with his old team in the Cardinals' clubhouse on Saturday, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports. Lohse signed with the Brewers after a long offseason that began with Lohse and his agent, Scott Boras, declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer. There wasn't much of a market for Lohse after that, mostly because the team that signed him would have to sacrifice a draft pick. He finally signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers. Lohse reflects on the twisting path that led him to Milwaukee: "[Declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer] makes me look bad, [because] that's a lot of money. But is it fair value for what I had done? No," says Lohse. "Even going back on it, I'd still do the same thing. You have to go out and take your chances. Now, going forward, I don't know what other people in my situation are going to do." Here are more notes from the National League:
- Ted Lilly's status with the Dodgers is in question, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes.
The Dodgers asked Lilly to make two more rehab starts, but Lilly
declined, feeling he is ready for the majors. The Dodgers don't currently have a job available for him on their crowded pitching staff, however. The
Dodgers would reportedly like to trade Lilly, who they owe $12MM in 2013.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson denies recent rumors connecting his team to the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Balasis of MetsMerized Online reports. Alderson says his team has not had talks with the Marlins since early spring. Alderson also says the Mets will not trade catcher John Buck.
8:58pm: The Angels aren't interested in signing Rodriguez, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter).
7:50pm: Right-hander Francisco Rodriguez is drawing interest from such teams as the Angels, Brewers, Marlins and a few others, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. The free agent reliever drew little attention on the open market during the offseason, with only the Mets briefly being linked to Rodriguez, though Scott Boras (Rodriguez's agent) said two weeks ago that he expected his client to soon find a new team.
Rodriguez recorded an even 72 strikeouts in 72 innings with Milwaukee last season, posting a 4.38 ERA and 2.32 K/BB. It seemed as if a return to the Brewers was unlikely but given how the club's bullpen has struggled early this season, it isn't surprising that the Crew are checking in on a known quantity. Rodriguez could even find himself in line to become a closer again if he re-signs with the Brewers given that incumbent closer John Axford recently lost his job, though Jim Henderson is slated to receive the lion's share of the save opportunities.
The Angels and Marlins are also in need of bullpen help, owning respective bullpen ERAs of 4.94 (19th in MLB) and 6.31 (28th in MLB) heading into Friday's action. Angels righty Ryan Madson isn't expected back from elbow surgery for a few weeks while Miami closer Steve Cishek has a 15.43 ERA after three outings this season.
As the year's first full weekend of baseball gets underway, take a look at the latest on the Cubs' efforts to rehabilitate Chicago's venerable Wrigley Field. Hal Dardick of the Chicago Tribune writes that, with the club and the city nearing a deal, the owners of the famous Wrigleyville rooftops are preparing to fight any moves that would obstruct their view. On to some roster shuffling notes:
- The Brewers have some difficult roster decisions coming up, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. With Corey Hart already out, the club needs to address injuries to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. While the club is hopeful that Braun will miss little (if any) time due to his neck spasms, Ramirez's knee sprain is concerning and could result in a DL stint. With a full 40-man roster, however, Milwaukee is short on choices. Potential reserve infielders Taylor Green and Jeff Bianchi are on the roster but are also on the DL, leaving prospect Scooter Gennett as the only apparent infield option on the current 40-man.
- The Diamondbacks added shortstops Cliff Pennington, Didi Gregorius, and Nick Ahmed this offseason, and already had prospect Chris Owings in place at the position, writes Nick Piecoro of AZCentral Sports. With Gregorius returning soon from an elbow strain, the club faces a complicated choice in allocating playing time among the players at the big league and upper minor league levels.
- Another injury-related roster crunch is playing out in Miami, where the Marlins are struggling to replace multiple injured first basemen (most recently, Casey Kotchman). Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald explains that, without any healthy replacements on the 40-man roster, the club is essentially holding tryouts among its other position players. The results reportedly included Chris Coghlan asking whether he could use his outfielder's glove and Miguel Olivo trotting out with his catcher's mitt on.
The Brewers waited until the eleventh hour to make a splash, but they made a significant upgrade to put themselves in the playoff mix.
Major League Signings
- Alex Gonzalez, SS: one year, $1.5MM.
- Kyle Lohse, SP: three years, $33MM.
- Mike Gonzalez, RP: one year, $2.25MM.
- Tom Gorzelanny, SP: two years, $5.7MM.
- Total Spend: $42.45MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
- Acquired 3B Stephen Parker from Athletics for P Darren Byrd.
- Acquired P Burke Badenhop from Rays for OF Raul Mondesi Jr.
- Claimed P Arcenio Leon off waivers from Astros.
- Carlos Gomez, OF: three years, $24MM.
After trading Zack Greinke last July and losing Shaun Marcum to free agency, the Brewers seemed content to head into 2013 without making a significant upgrade to the rotation. However, Milwaukee decided to give Kyle Lohse a home last week by giving him a three-year, $33MM deal. Aside from the money, the deal also means that the Brewers have to forfeit their No. 17 pick in the June draft.
You can debate whether or not it was worth it for Milwaukee, but there's no denying that it makes them a better team to open the season. Lohse joins Yovani Gallardo atop the rotation and their presence is especially important given the lack of experience on the rest of the staff. Marco Estrada pitched to a 3.64 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 23 starts and six relief appearances in 2012 and the Brewers would love to see something similar this year, but he had just nine starts on his resume prior to last season. They'll also be counting on Mike Fiers in the No. 5 spot after slotting Chris Narveson in the bullpen.
The Brewers' biggest need was their bullpen and they made major changes in an effort to turn things around. First, Milwaukee traded Raul Mondesi Jr. to the Rays for right-hander Burke Badenhop. Then, they picked up a pair of former Nationals in free agent left-handers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez. All three should help the Brewers' cause this season and they should improve upon their NL-worst 4.66 ERA from last season.
Alex Gonzalez was picked up in February to provide an alternative to Jean Segura, but he'll be serving an even more important role to open the season. With Corey Hart sidelined until mid-to-late May and Mat Gamel out for the season, Gonzalez will start the season as the club's first baseman. Which leads us to..
The Brewers scored the most runs in the National League last season (third in the majors) but the Hart injury could hurt them depending on his recovery time. Hart's slash line of .270/.334/.507 was a big reason for their offensive surge last season but they'll have to get by with Gonzalez in the interim, a player who hit .241/.270/.372 in his last full campaign. It's cause for concern defensively as well. Gonzalez has 13,207 2/3 innings of experience of at shortstop but exactly none at first base.
The trio of Badenhop, Gorzelanny, and Gonzalez should improve the Brewers' bullpen but there are still plenty of question marks about their relievers. John Axford took a major step back in 2012, posting a 4.67 ERA (versus a 2.26 ERA in the three years prior) with 12.1 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9. They'll need better than that in 2013 to compete in the NL Central.
Deal of Note
In mid-March, the Brewers gave Carlos Gomez a three-year, $24MM extension that will keep him locked up through the 2016 season. The deal buys out the first three years of Gomez's free agency and could prove to be a bargain for the club if he continues to progress and hit right-handed pitching. It also came as something of a surprise since agent Scott Boras typically urges his players to test the market rather than sign an extension with a year to go before free agency. The 27-year-old posted a .260/.305/.463 batting line in 452 plate appearances with a career high 19 homers as Milwaukee's everyday center fielder last season. He also provides solid defense at the position, as his career 14.7 UZR/150 shows.
The Brewers finished the 2012 season in the middle of the pack with 83 wins - enough to claim a .500 record but not enough to play in October. While things looked stagnant for much of the winter, the Lohse addition gives their starting rotation a boost that cannot be overstated. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently noted, Lohse has 331 career starts to his credit, which is more than the combined 270 starts that the originally planned rotation of Gallardo, Estrada, Wily Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers have made.
On paper, Milwaukee's starting five should be strong enough to help reduce demand on their potent offense. If the bullpen can climb out of the cellar, then the Brewers should find themselves in the playoff hunt this year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are a few more notes from around baseball:
- Former Rangers hurler C.J. Wilson discussed the "communication issues" with the Texas front office that, he says, led him and other free agents to leave the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "When you're a free agent and the team that you're with tells you that they don't think you're that good or whatever, it doesn't give you any incentive to sign back," said Wilson. "They've played the whole wait-and-see card. It didn't really work with [Josh] Hamilton and it didn't work with me, either." A glance at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that Texas has been willing to pay its own in some circumstances, giving large extensions to players like Matt Harrison, Ian Kinsler, and Derek Holland.
- The Giants entered their huge extension with backstop Buster Posey knowing that there is a good chance he will have to change positions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Posey, a former shortstop, could be moved to third or first in as few as two years, notes Olney. In the meantime, the club can let the situation evolve and see what happens with talented younger players like Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval. For his part, Posey says he would be willing to change positions if "it's something that'll help the team," but that his "passion is being behind the plate,"tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- There are a dozen big league skippers on the hot seat this season, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Don Mattingly of the Dodgers, Mike Scioscia of the Angels, and Terry Collins of the Mets all made Rosenthal's list.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
After recapping the Pirates' offseason, let's take a look at the rest of the NL Central..
- The Collective Bargaining Agreement meant that Kyle Lohse had to wait longer than expected to sign this winter, but he can be a real game changer in the NL Central for the Brewers, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The veteran will pitch alongside Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada in front of the National League's best offense in 2012.
- Fresh off of signing a five-year, $97.5MM contract extension, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright says that he is ready to be the club's undisputed ace, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Aside from being an impact player on the mound, Wainwright is also looked up to by the other hurlers on the team.
- The Cubs did some spring cleaning today and made some minor league cuts, including 2010 first-rounder Hayden Simpson and Dontrelle Willis, according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
The Athletics claimed Josh Stinson off of waivers from the Brewers, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). Milwaukee exposed the right-hander to waivers this week as they wanted to free up a spot on their 40-man roster.
Stinson, 25, has made 19 relief appearances and one start for the Brewers and Mets across the last two seasons, posting a 4.43 ERA with 4.4 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9. In 24 starts and five relief appearances for the Brewers' Double-A affiliate last season, Stinson posted a 3.16 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here..
- Catcher Miguel Olivo has asked for and been granted his release by the Reds, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). It was previously reported that Olivo was mulling whether to accept a $100k bonus and report to Triple-A, or instead test the market. Olivo could be an option for the Marlins, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
- The Rays have released minor leaguer righties Nick Barnese and Joe Cruz, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter. Barnese, a third-rounder from 2007, threw 56 2/3 innings over 12 starts in Double-A last year and mustered only a 5.72 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
- Infielder Donnie Murphy exercised his out clause with the Brewers today and took his release, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 30-year-old hooked on with Milwaukee in December and hit hit .216/.281/.379 in 129 plate appearances with the Marlins last season. Murphy is a .205/.270/.373 career hitter in 640 big league plate appearances and a .285/.351/.556 career hitter 738 Triple-A plate appearances.
Making his first start in a Rockies uniform tonight, recently-signed Jon Garland made such an impression with his groundball-inducing ways that the club tweeted his groundout to flyout ratio (2.5:1) through five innings.
- Garland has substantial incentives in his contract with the Rockies that could raise its total value to $3.1MM, explains Troy Renck of the Denver Post. In addition to his base $500k deal, which will fully vest if he stays on the 25-man roster for 45 days, Garland can earn up to $1.35MM for innings pitched (the pay starts at 105 IP and increases up to 195 IP) and up to $1.25MM for starts made (with the incentives kicking in at 20 starts and continuing to 32 starts).
- The Rockies are expected to consider the possibility of inking righty Aaron Cook, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted earlier today. Cook, who was released earlier today by the Phillies, is (like Garland) known as a groundball artist.
- In spite of being sent to Double-A today by the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig has been so impressive that he may enable the club to effectively buy even more young talent from other clubs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal explains, if L.A. is able to replace either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier with Puig, they could then offer to pay for much of the balance of the contracts of those expensive veterans to extract quality prospects from a trade partner. According to an unnamed rival executive, "It's smart actually -- the only way to really build a farm system under the new rules. And you can only do it if you've got big dollars."
- The Kyle Lohse signing was a substantial investment for the Brewers at three years and $33MM, but owner Mark Attanasio says that it will not prevent the club from "being able to make another move," reports Rosenthal. In particular, Attanasio expects to be in a position to re-sign first-baseman Corey Hart, who falls just outside the top 10 anticipated 2014 free agents in MLBTR's TIm Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. While the Brewers sought to add to their rotation without losing a draft pick when they made an offer to Ryan Dempster before he joined the Red Sox for two years and $26.5MM, Attanasio explained that, "at the time we made the Dempster decision, we thought Kyle would go at a higher price." Finally, Rosenthal notes that Lohse can earn three separate paydays totalling an additional $1MM for reaching 190 innings pitched over each of the next three seasons.
- Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been a popular topic of trade speculation, with the presumption being that Chicago would try to get whatever prospects and/or salary relief it could. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders, however, whether Soriano is now too valuable for the team to consider dealing. For his part, Soriano raves about the team's new front office and coaching staff, explaining how they changed the culture from one in which he felt singled out for the team's failings to one in which, "if we lost, we lost like a team; if we won, we won like a team."
The Brewers signed infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to a Major League deal, according to a press release from his agency. He'd been the team's starting shortstop in 2011, and now he'll serve in a utility role.
Betancourt, 31, hit .228/.256/.400 in 228 plate appearances for the Royals last year, playing mostly second base. He was on a minor league deal with the Phillies this spring, but opted out a few days ago.