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.
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.
The Milwaukee Brewers announced a short while ago that they have acquired 20-year-old left-handed pitching prospect Luis Ortega from the Boston Red Sox. In return, the Red Sox acquired right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop.
Badenhop was 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA and a Save in 63 appearances out of Milwaukee’s bullpen in 2013. It was Badenhop’s lone season as a Brewer, having been acquired on December 1st of last year.
Luís David Ortega, 5’10″ 155 lb, signed as an international free agent with the Boston back in 2011 and has pitched the past two seasons in their system. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ortega pitched in the Dominican Summer League as a 19-year-old before pitching for Boston’s Gulf Coast League rookie ball affiliate in 2012. In total, he’s appearaed in 25 games as a professional, including 13 starts in 2011 and just one start in 2012 to go along with 11 relief appearances. He’s logged 96.0 innings pitched with a combined ERA of 2.25.
Ortega could begin the 2013 season with Class-A Wisconsin if he has a good spring, but certainly he’ll be stateside. Whether he works as a starter or reliever will be something most likely decided upon soon so off-season workouts can be adjusted as necessary.
Clearly the Brewers have confidence in some of their young middle relief pitchers who debuted last season in order to surrender a Major League veteran. Also a factor is that Badenhop was arbitration eligible. Bottom line, if you can get the same job done for cheaper, it just makes sense to do it that way.
With Badenhop’s depature, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 39.
Today is the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the annual Rule V Draft.
That draft takes place at the Winter Meetings and was originally implemented with the idea of getting players an opportunity that they might otherwise not receive. The basics that one needs to know are that if a player is selected by another club, that player must be rostered at the MLB level for the entirety of the next season and be “active” for at least 90 days. Otherwise the player must be offered back to his original organization.
From there, it gets a little more complicated including upfront cost, roster construction, option years, salary differential, etc. The point though is that eligible players who would be of interest to other clubs need to be protected from the draft. The only way to do that is to add the player to the 40-man roster.
Not every minor leaguer is eligible though. To be eligible for the Rule V Draft a player must have played in professional (affiliated) baseball for at least four full seasons if he was signed at age 19 or older, and five full seasons if signed at 18 or younger.
The Brewers have several eligible players this year who warranted consideration for protection, but at most four open roster spots with which to protect. Last year they protected more than that and possibly adding Corey Hart add a free agent would mean someone previously protected may eventually wind up back off the roster the end. Furthermore, the group of eligible players in full could make up their own 40-man roster still have two on the outside looking in.
But those most likely seriously considered include Hunter Morris, Jason Rogers, Brooks Hall, Kyle Heckathorn, Kevin Shackelford, and Tyler Cravy.
Any of those aren’t added today are certainly names to look for on December 15th as teams make selections in the Rule V Draft. Others could be lost as well, especially if they’re able to be taken in the minor league portions of the draft like Eric Farris last year.
I have learned that the Brewers officials have had their discussions and made their arguments as to why each player should be protected. The final decision is, as it should be, now in general manager Doug Melvin’s hands.
We’ll have coverage for you whenever official word comes down. Decisions are due to the league office before the end of the day, or 11pm CST.
***BREAKING: A source informed me that Jason Rogers will be added to the 40-man roster today.***
***BREAKING PART TWO: A source confirmed that Hunter Morris will also be added to the 40-man roster, as widely expected.***
Recorded on location last night, here is the latest Brewer Nation podcast.
Check the tags for some of the players mentioned during this hour-long clip.