The Milwaukee Brewers today selected three players in the Rule 5 Draft at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
Left-handed pitcher Wei-Chung Wang was selected in the first round of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Indianapolis roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wang, 21, went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) for the Rookie Gulf Coast League Pirates last season. He struck out 42 batters compared to just 4 walks in 47.1 innings pitched and held opponents to a .209 batting average. A native of Taitung City, Taiwan, Wang was originally signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on October 3, 2011.
Center fielder Kevin Mattison was selected in the first round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Jacksonville roster of the Miami Marlins. Mattison, 28, batted .216 with 7 HR, 31 RBI and 18 stolen bases with Triple-A New Orleans last season. He was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 28th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Third baseman Vinnie Catricala was selected in the second round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Midland roster of the Oakland Athletics. Catricala, 25, was traded from Seattle to Oakland on June 9, 2013. He batted a combined .235 with 7 HR and 47 RBI in 109 games between Double-A Jackson and Double-A Midland last season. Catricala, who was drafted by Seattle in the 10th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Hawaii, was named the Mariners’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2011.
The Brewers did not lose a player in the Rule 5 Draft.
As first reported by Jon Heyman via Twitter, free agent Corey Hart has agreed to sign a contract with the Seattle Mariners for the 2014 season.
A source independently confirmed the agreement, but said that the “Pending Physical” part of the equation isn’t seen as a 100% certainty.
What this means for the Brewers is that they move onto their backup plans which were being put into place over the past couple of days. Those plans include three names we know about.
As I reported Monday night, the Brewers were a finalist to acquire Ike Davis in trade from the New York Mets before the Mets decided to bump up their asking price. With Hart no longer available, you can assume that the Mets won’t be motivated to move off of that demand. However, the Mets would very much like to unload Davis and don’t have a ton of trade partners available to them.
Listed as one of many teams that “checked in” on Logan Morrison, the Brewers were seen as out as recently as last night but this morning I was told (and yes, tweeted first for those that care), that the Brewers were viewing LoMo as the top fallback trade option should Hart spurn their advances. Since he did, that could certainly get things moving again here.
UPDATE: As I was typing, it came down that the Mariners and Marlins agreed on a trade to send Morrison to the Pacific Northwest as well in return for Carter Capps. So, no mo LoMo… (I’ll show myself out.)
As of this morning, Adam McCalvy first reported that given the current state of flux surrounding the Hart situation, the agent for Loney proactively reached out to Melvin. As we all know, Melvin loves it when a player expresses a desire to play in Milwaukee. Watch for this one to take shape especially if Loney can be talked off of his current desire to get a three-year deal.
Here is Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Monday from Baseball’s Winter Meetings…
…and here is field manager Ron Roenicke from Orlando as well.
I finally got around to watching MLB Network’s Top 75 Defensive Plays of 2013. The Brewers were involved on the positive end of five (5) of them.
(That’s a robust 15% if you don’t do division that quickly. EDIT: Which is facetious, if you didn’t pick up on that.)
Here they are with brief descriptions of situation, players involved, and impact (if any).
#73 – Segura Flips to Gennett – September 11, 2013 – With runners on first and second, this double play off the bat of David Freese ended an early St. Louis threat. Unfortunately, the Brewers would eventually lose this game anyway.
#68 – GoGo Robs CarGo - April 3, 2013 – Carlos Gomez makes the first of his record five home run robbing grabs of his Gold Glove season, when he took one away from Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
#55 – Gomez Scales Tal’s Hill…In a Manner of Speaking – June 18, 2013 – In this catch in the Brewers first series with the American League version of the Houston Astros, Carlos Gomez proved that concentration and timing are paramount in making a spectacular catch, but a little bit of fortune doesn’t hurt. Notice the distance marker on the CF wall? I figure Gomez was about 430 or so away from home plate when he literally laid out to make the catch. That’s gone by plenty at Miller Park.
#30 – Gomez Does It Again to the Reds – September 15, 2013 – Gomez added another home run thievery to his collection when he scaled the wall in the top of the 9th at Miller Park with two on and two out. It kept the score knotted at five all after the Brewers scored once in the 7th and thrice in the 8th to tie the game. Gomez’s great catch allowed the Brewers to go on to win the contest when Sean Halton hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th off of Zach Duke. The win kicked off a modest four-game winning streak.
#20 – Gomez Catches Ball, Votto Demands Proof – July 8th, 2013 – In what I thought would be the top defensive play for the Brewers in 2013, Gomez leaped high to take away a home run from Joey Votto, one that would have given the Reds the lead in the top of the 9th. Instead, Gomez’s catch ended it in rare home walk-off defensive fashion.
#13 – Gomez (yes, again) Gives Dat Dude a Taste – August 15, 2013 – Is it something the Reds said? For whatever reason, the top three defensive plays of 2013 by the Brewers — and their defensive star Carlos Gomez — all came at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately for the Brewers, this play cost Gomez
A source just messaged me to say that free agent Corey Hart and the Milwaukee Brewers have been “actively working” toward a contract agreement pretty much all day. This is a deal that is being “hammered out” still, but that both sides appear “motivated” to get it done.
As I’ve said numerous times cross-platform, this would solve the biggest single need for the Brewers with a player they know and are comfortable with, both in terms of clubhouse fit and on-field production. Hart took back to first base like a metaphor in which something was away from something else for a while but then went back to it in a seamless and easy transition.
Could things still fall apart? Until the physical is passed and the contract is signed, anything is possible. But this would be a continued relationship that makes sense on both sides of the table.
As there is still some back and forth here, I don’t have any contract specifics to provide at this time. I’ll update if I hear something though. I had previously reported that the Brewers were preparing to offer a one-year deal having a low-base salary with heavy incentives. There are no indications yet from my source as to where current negotiations are at other than that they’re still fluid at last check.
The 2013 edition of Baseball’s Winter Meetings, at least as they pertain to the Brewers which is why you’re reading, got underway with a flurry of news and notes but no signings.
Here’s your Day 1 recap:
The day began with word that Corey Hart’s agent would be meeting with the Brewers contingent later in the day, and that the Brewers were making a resolution with Hart a “priority.”
Adam McCalvy then chimed in that the Brewers touched base with the Mets about their available first basemen as well, phrasing the communications with the Mets and with Hart’s agent as “groundwork.”
Bad news then came down the pipeline late afternoon. It was confirmed that Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny had undergone shoulder surgery. It was considered relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) with the expectation that Gorzelanny would be pitching again by mid-March. Gorzelanny’s shoulder cost him the end of his 2013 season and further proved, in my opinion, that he shouldn’t have been put back into the rotation last year.
Brewers brass then confirmed that they had met with Hart’s agent and that the two sides had agreed to touch base again during the Winter Meetings. It was suggested that the Brewers would get a chance to react to other offers Hart receives.
I speculated leading up to the Winter Meetings when the Brewers were tied to a handful of other first baseman options at least as a backup plan to if not leverage against Hart. To that end, Hank Schulman (who covers the San Francisco Giants) tweeted that Milwaukee had checked in with San Fran about the availability of 1B Brett Pill.
But, despite all of that, the Brewers aren’t only in Orlando looking to settle one position. General manager Doug Melvin has also made no secret about his desire to add a reliever with “closing experience” to field manager Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. To that, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that the Brewers had talked to Carlos Marmol. Nothing imminent, but still
Amongst all of the rest of the newsworthy items was the Logan Morrison situation. That’s the one where the Marlins have said that they’ll be trading him soon but multiple teams denied being close to acquiring him. For what it’s worth, the Brewers have been connected there as a “it makes sense” destination by a handful of scribes.
And finally, my personal contribution to the rumor mill last night about where that “groundwork” may have the Brewers positioned come Tuesday morning, can be read right here: Hot Stove: Pushing The Issue
So there you have it. Day 1 of the 2013 Winter Meetings in a nutshell.
(*Apologies for the lateness of this. I got my rumor last night and only ended up with time to write up the one post. I’ll add in tweets later to fill out this recap, but the info is at least all here.)
As I was sitting here writing up my Day 1 recap of the Winter Meetings, my phone buzzed.
What it said when I checked it was that the Brewers are progressing down one road thereby forcing the issue on another front burner topic.
As reported by more than a couple of people earlier today, representatives of the Milwaukee Brewers did touch base with the representatives of the New York Mets. Here’s where things are:
The Brewers are one of two teams “left standing” (as it was worded to me) in talks with the Mets to potentially acquire 1B Ike Davis in trade. Despite pressure on my part for additional information (Who is the other team? What’s on the table for Davis?), those details weren’t offered in return.
This means the following things to me in regards to Corey Hart and the position of first base for the Brewers in 2014:
- They have prioritized the position, not just the player.
- They want a decision from Hart soon. This is what I’ve been touting as “leverage” against the player. You can’t simply let Hart sit and play teams off of each other for a week or more driving up prices.
- They wouldn’t have gotten as far down the road on acquiring Ike Davis as it sounds like they are unless they viewed him as a viable alternative should they be spurned by Hart.
To my source, it feels like it’s nearing “(crap) or get off the pot” time for Corey Hart with concern to the Milwaukee Brewers.
In my opinion, the Brewers prefer Hart to return over importing a different player, however they aren’t going to held over the coals either. There are some advantages to Davis though. He’s controllable, six years younger than Hart, cheaper, and could be a bounce back candidate coming off of such a poor season that he was demoted to Triple-A at one point.
You can expect a little push back from Hart’s people as they work to field all of the offers that they want to, but Doug Melvin and the Brewers simply cannot go into 2014 with the same kinds of questions at first base that presented themselves once Hart, Mat Gamel, and Taylor Green all succumbed to season-ending injuries before Opening Day.
Expect Melvin to get things going.
Now, back to the writing up the day’s full recap…
I was just alerted to something on Twitter which led me to pursue a lead. That led to awareness that the Milwaukee Brewers have traded Norichika Aoki to the Kansas City Royals for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
Smith, 24, worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen for the Royals in 2013 appearing in 19 contests with just one start. He started just 10 of his 28 appearances for the Omaha Storm Chasers (the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate) in 2013 as well. Smith, 6’5″ 250 lbs, throws from the left-side and will at worst fill a need that Doug Melvin made no secret about wanting to take care of. That need being another left-handed relief pitcher to compliment Tom Gorzelanny in Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. But, as Doug Melvin told reporters shortly after the trade was announced, Will Smith will be coming to Maryvale on February 15th as a starting pitcher.
Aoki will be missed. He provided a quality lead-off hitter and mostly capable defense primarily in right field as a Brewer.
The trade opens up the roster to further bring along the possible move of Ryan Braun to right field so that Milwaukee can get their young, left-field-only slugger Khris Davis into the everyday lineup.
Following now is the official release from the Brewers…
BREWERS TRADE OUTFIELDER NORICHIKA AOKI TO KANSAS CITY
Acquire Left-Handed Pitcher Will Smith
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired left-handed pitcher Will Smith from Kansas City in exchange for outfielder
Norichika Aoki. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
“Will Smith is someone we have liked for a couple of years now,” said Melvin. “We had the chance to acquire a 24-year-old big physical left-hander who we feel can be a part of our staff. We could not walk away from the opportunity.”
Smith was acquired by the Royals via trade from the Angels on July 22, 2010. He was originally selected by the Angels in the seventh round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Smith has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Major Leagues with Kansas City, going 8-10 with a 4.76 ERA in 35 games (17 starts). He has gone 6-10 with a 5.48 ERA as a starter (93.2ip, 57er) and 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in relief (29.1ip, 8er).
Smith went 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 games (1 start) during seven stints with the Royals this season (4/21, 4/28, 6/25-7/8, 8/4-8/6, 8/10-8/12, 8/16-8/20 and 8/25-end). He held opponents to a .202 batting average with 43 strikeouts in just 33.1 innings. Smith made his Major League debut in 2012 with the Royals, going 6-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 16 starts.
Aoki, who turns 32 on January 5, batted .287 with 18 HR, 87 RBI and 50 stolen bases in 306 games during his two seasons with the Brewers.
He signed with Milwaukee on January 17, 2012 after his negotiating rights were awarded to the team by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League on December 19, 2011.
“Nori is a true professional and performed very well as a member of the Brewers,” said Melvin. “This was a tough call because of what he brought to our organization on the field and in the clubhouse.”
On Wednesday it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers had signed a pair of free agents to minor league contracts. Those contracts include invitations to big league camp at Maryvale come February, officially labeling both new additions as “non-roster invitees” or NRIs.
The two players involved are catcher Matt Pagnozzi, late of the Houston Astros system, and utility infielder Irving Falu, most recently of the Kansas City Royals organization.
Full write ups of their pasts will come during the 2014 edition of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, but for now let’s go ahead and give you a little taste.
Matthew Thomas Pagnozzi (hey kids, he’s on Twitter! @MattPagnozzi) is a 31-year-old veteran of 11 seasons in professional baseball. He’s been employed by six different organizations including five in the last three years. Pagnozzi doesn’t hit much but has a solid reputation as a defensive-minded catcher. The Brewers could use a quality receiver to work with the next wave of prospects at Triple-A Nashville. Barring injury, that’s Pagnozzi’s likely destination when camp breaks at the end of March.
Irving Falu (Twitter: @irvingfalu) is a native of Puerto Rico who was first drafted in 2001 by the San Diego Padres and then again in 2003 by the Royals. He is 30 years old and as the polar opposite of Pagnozzi has only known one organization. In a beautiful irony that Brewers fans can appreciate, Falu made his MLB debut in 2012 after injury sidelined Yuniesky Betancourt. Perhaps Falu can permanently replace Betancourt in the Brewers organization going forward. Forever. And ever.
Both of these players will be heavily involved in Spring Training. Pagnozzi as a top MiLB catcher and Falu as a switch-hitting infielder who can back up at second base, third base and shortstop.
As reported earlier today on Twitter…
Corey Hart has been medically cleared.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) December 3, 2013
What this means for Corey Hart the professional baseball player is that teams can feel more confident than they have up to this point in offering him a contract. What it means for Corey Hart the man is that he’ll have some decisions to make.
A source tells me that in addition to the contract that the Brewers have been preparing to offer on which I reported a month ago, at least four other teams have been working on offers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll get all of them in his hands but that so many teams are considering him leads me to a thought.
More on that in a moment. First the teams: Blue Jays, Mets, Yankees, and the Orioles.
Nobody is expected to go crazy at this point in what they might offer Hart, but with these teams in the mix along with other destinations that certainly make sense at least on paper, it could be enough that Hart could conceivably turn this into a more lucrative situation than first suggested by yours truly and other smarter folks. That was a low-base, one-year contract with incentives that could turn the contract into slightly below market value.
So here’s what I’m thinking. I wonder if the Brewers will end up needing to offer Hart a one-year contract at relatively the same terms as above but with a vesting option for a second year at full market value that becomes a mutual option should it fail to vest. Something along those lines would likely be able to trump simple one-year offers unless Hart only wants to play 2014 under contract in order to hit full free agency next off-season.
Then again, that assumes that nobody goes two guaranteed years from the jump.
Regardless as to the ultimate offer from Milwaukee to Hart, it appears as though he is the Brewers’ main priority right now. They have made no other moves and although Doug Melvin historically works slowly at this time of year, it’ll be worth watching to see how quickly they might move on the former All-Star now that he’s medically cleared for all baseball activities.