Archive for the ‘ Rumors ’ Category

Rumor: Francisco Rodriguez “Agrees to Sign”…Somewhere

FranciscoRodriguez

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, free agent relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez won’t be a free agent much longer.

Spencer tweeted out the following blurb Thursday morning.

With the word that Rodriguez isn’t headed to Miami, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports checked in on whether the Blue Jays were the team who had successfully wooed the man they call K-Rod.

So combine those reports with what FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal revealed the other day…

…and it certainly seems as though the Brewers could be reconciling with their most recent closer.

Stay tuned.

Rumor: Brewers In Agreement With Free Agent Left-Hander

NealCotts

Not one to break many free agent signings, Tom Haudricourt just tweeted the following…

Neal Cotts is a left-handed reliever, and has pitched parts of nine seasons in the big leagues for both Chicago teams and, most recently, the Texas Rangers. He missed significant time following Tommy John surgery in 2009 and four hip surgeries which started in 2010.

Cotts will be 35 by Opening Day. As recently as 2013, he pitched to a 1.11 ERA in 57.0 IP. He struck out 65 that year. Last year was harder for Cotts. In 66.2 IP, Cotts wound up with a 4.32 ERA in 73 (!) appearances. He struck out 63 but tripled his home runs allowed from two to six.

Cotts reportedly made $2.2 million in 2014. If he signs a major league deal, you’d have to think he would come in right around there, hopefully lighter given his most recent campaign.

Notably, Cotts struggled against left-handed hitters in 2014, allowing a slash of .270/.337/.438, but he’s carried a reverse platoon split overall in his career anyway.

***UPDATE***

Haudricourt and Ken Rosenthal are now concurring that Cotts has passed his physical with the Brewers and that a deal is done.

***UPDATE***

Rosenthal checks back in with the money.

More than I would have liked to commit given the specifics, but not outlandish given the marketplace.

It us a major league deal which means that the Brewers will have to make a corresponding move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Rumor: Brewers In Trade Talks to Acquire Papelbon?

JonathanPapelbon

According to a tweet that came in just after midnight CT on Friday morning, the Brewers are in “serious discussions” to acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies have been selling off several of their high-priced veterans, and Papelbon fits that M.O. The 6’4″ veteran closer is set to make $13 million in 2015 and has a vesting option for 2016 as a part of his contract as well. The Brewers did just save ~$9 million when they traded Yovani Gallardo, so conventional logic would seem to infer that the Phillies might be paying a portion of Papelbon’s contract in any deal.

The now 34-year-old Papelbon saved 39 games for a Phillies team that only won 79 all season. He pitched to a 2.04 ERA in 66.1 IP. He struck out 63 batters and walked just 15. In stark contrast to the outgoing Brewers closer of 2014, Francisco Rodriguez, Papelbon gave up only two (2) home runs last year. His FIP (2.53) and WHIP (0.905) are encouraging peripherals as well.

Papelbon does have a 17-team no-trade list, but it’s unknown whether the Brewers are on the list.

An acquisition of Papelbon would certainly satisfy Doug Melvin’s oft-stated desire to have multiple guys in the his bullpen who have experience closing games. In fact, Papelbon was a rumored target for the Brewers last season before they ultimately acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Cincinnati Reds. At the time, the idea of Papelbon in Milwaukee was panned due to the financial commitment due him. For the record, his 2016 option (also at $13 million) vests if Papelbon finishes 48 games in 2015 as that would bring his two-year total up to 100.

***UPDATE***

As often happens when one baseball writer breaks news, others react to it by checking in with their own sources and then share what they’ve learned. So far today, that role has been filled by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.

So all that seems to counter, to a degree, what Jeff Passan originally reported. However, Jayson Stark then chimed in.

Stay tuned.

Rumor: Yovani Gallardo Headed to Rangers In Trade

Gallardo091914

As first pinpointed by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, the Brewers followed through on my report from early last week and are reportedly on the verge of trading away homegrown starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to the Texas Rangers.

Gallardo, as you may recall, became the Brewers’ career strikeout leader late in 2014 and was on pace to overtake several statistical categories in Brewers history in the near future. It now appears as though the man we call “Yo” will finish where he currently sits.

I’m writing to discuss why I think this trade went down, some of the logistics without yet knowing all the names involved for sure, as well as my generalized thoughts about trading Gallardo from a macro level.

First, the Brewers are basically maxed out on their payroll as the day begins. Principal owner Mark Attanasio has been flexible over the years in adding payroll in season when the chance to compete is there. Just look at 2014. He authorized acquiring Jonathan Broxton (the likely closer to begin 2015) and Gerardo Parra (a pricey current 4th outfielder) after all. But entering a season where they sit after avoiding arbitration with all three of their eligible players (~$97 million committed to 12 players per Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt), it’s not that far of a stretch to understand why Attanasio might want to trim a little payroll fat. Gallardo is set to make $13 million in the final season of a six-year, $42.5 million contract he signed before the 2010 season. This is also pretty strong evidentiary support of the idea that the Brewers had no plans to offer Gallardo another long-term contract or even a qualifying offer after the season.

That’s just one of the logistical points of this situation. Another that I’ve been told is that the Brewers might not be moving all of Gallardo’s $13 million. There is chatter that they’ll be paying a portion of his deal. That’s normally done to offset the cost to the acquiring team, thereby increasing the return in quality and/or quantity of players.

But why now? Why move Gallardo at all? He was drafted by the Brewers, after all. I’ve heard all this and more since the trade rumor was first floated out. To those questions, I answer thusly.

Gallardo rebounded a bit in 2014 and actually had a better overall season than many give him credit for. He still struggled against St. Louis, had a poor May after an excellent April and limped through September when everything around the team seemed to be collapsing together, but his season was strong as a sum of its parts. Gallardo’s fastball came back to life and he posted a career-best BB/9 ratio of 2.5 overall. With a full season of control, Gallardo is more valuable to the Brewers to move now than he would be at any other point in 2015. And outside of the money issues, Gallardo is the most moveable piece among the pitchers. He’s the best combination of return, savings, and striking while the iron is hot on the team.

You aren’t moving the cheap Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson. Kyle Lohse is the oldest of the group and wouldn’t bring as much in return since there’s less projectability left on his arm than that of Gallardo. And after bringing in Matt Garza on an expensive deal, that’s not changing yet, plus the fact that Garza is already on pace to providing an extremely inexpensive contract option.

You also can’t let yourself worry about the fact that he was drafted and developed by the Brewers. So was Rickie Weeks. So was Prince Fielder. So was Corey Hart. There is a time for the vast majority of players in the era of free agency to move on from their original teams. If Gallardo isn’t in the long-term plan and he can bring you back someone who is, you move him. It can be a hard thing for a franchise like Milwaukee to do when homegrown talent under team control is a necessity to win, but when that talent prices themselves out of town decisions must be made regardless of the potential public relations hit. In a perfect world every Brewer is Robin Yount, but a perfect world this ain’t.

As for the return, well that just might be another column once we learn the particulars. Rosenthal speculates that Luis Sardiñas might be involved, but as of Sunday afternoon Gallardo hadn’t even been informed that he’d been traded. A principal agreement could be in place without all the details sorted out. I’m told that Gallardo’s agent leaked the report though so somebody knows something. Understandably, both front offices are upset as the track record exists for both to operate quietly.

In regards to the next step that so many people wanted to jump to on social media already, the agent for James Shields wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t reach out to the Brewers to discern their plan and see if his client might fit. After all, the talk for a bit now is how nobody is in on Shields at the number he wanted. Engaging the Brewers could get things a bit more towards where Shields would like them to be. Then again, the conspiracy theorists point to how shortly after the Gallardo news broke, the Nationals agreeing to a contract with free agent pitcher Max Scherzer came out. They are pointing to the coincidence to indicate that maybe the Brewers desiring to trade for Wisconsin-native starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and needed to free up a rotation spot and some money to do it and that now that the Nationals feel confident in trading Zimmermann, they could fully engage on Scherzer. While that’s all plausible, it certainly feels like a couple of steps past where things stand as the sun comes up on Monday, January 19th.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling that things could get fun today.

Rumor: Is Something A-Brewin’?

So a friend reached out early Tuesday and told me that there would likely be transactions over the next handful of days. It was said that the A’s, Braves, Blue Jays and Brewers were all set to be active.

I asked for details, such as whether the teams would be involved in trades together. Details were declined.

I didn’t share because details are important. Then on Wednesday the Braves traded Evan Gattis to the Astros and the A’s traded Yunel Escobar to the Nationals and my curiosity was certainly piqued.

I pressed for anything else specific to the Brewers and was told to be patient. Well…I’ll do my best. Now you can be impatient with me.

Misery loves company.

Brewers Reportedly Exercise Contract Option

Gallardo esta ganador!!! (Brewers 5, Giants 4)

According to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com, the Milwaukee Brewers exercised their 2015 contract option on starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

The option, worth $13 million, had a buyout of a mere $600 thousand, but it was universally agreed that the Brewers would not be able to find similar production on the free agent market for that kind of cost.

Gallardo’s strikeout numbers have dropped the last couple of years, but he’s remained a relatively consistent performer by many other metrics including FIP, WHIP, innings pitched, home run rate, and more. The senior member of Milwaukee’s rotation also posted the best full-season ERA of his career at 3.51, over half a run lower than 2013. Gallardo also posted his lowest BB/9 (2.5) at the MLB level.

The Brewers now appear to have four of their five rotation spots secured for 2015 in Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, and Wily Peralta. Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers would seem to be in line to compete for the fifth job and almost certainly other options will be considered come camp. But if everyone stays healthy, four jobs appear set.

There is also the matter of the holes on the team, most notably at first base where both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents. Overbay, who said on MLB Network radio that he’s leaning toward retirement, isn’t likely to return. Neither, it would seem, is Mark Reynolds who played quality defense but was either hitting home runs in bunches or hitting nothing at all. If the Brewers decided that there is value in moving an affordable asset to shore up a bigger hole, it’s conceivable that the Brewers could install Fiers and Nelson in their rotation or return to Marco Estrada who is arbitration eligible.

The point is that by picking up Gallardo’s contract option, the Brewers will be picking up other options as well, metaphorically speaking.

Second Round of September Call-Ups Coming

Following their first round of call-ups yesterday, I just heard from a reliable source that the Brewers will call up at least three more players following today’s game now that Nashville’s season has concluded.

Joining the Brewers in the clubhouse tomorrow will be:

  • Jason Rogers
  • Hector Gomez
  • Matt Clark

Rogers, the Brewers’ reigning MiLB Player of the Year, has been playing mostly third base this season in the minor league system. He’s been on an absolute tear of late, finishing his minor-league season on an eight-game hitting streak that included a pair of home runs.

For as hot as Rogers has been at the plate, nobody holds a candle to the lefty clubber Matt Clark. Acquired after Hunter Morris went down with a long-term injury this season (he’s been back and playing), Clark has demolished the Pacific Coast League. In 53 games with the Sounds, Clark is slashing .313/.371/.605 and has hit 16 home runs, all in just 195 at-bats. Of those 16 home runs, a cool 12 have come in the just-completed month of August.

Gomez is primarily a shortstop, and could have been a minor league free agent following this season had the Brewers not added him to the 40-man roster. He was also announced as a participant in the upcoming edition of the Arizona Fall League on behalf of the Brewers so it was widely thought that he would have to be added to the 40-man roster at some point. Gomez played in two MLB games back in 2011 as a Colorado Rockies player, but hasn’t been back since.

As for Rogers and Clark, their first games in a Brewers uniform will be their first games at the highest level of professional baseball.

Congratulations to all three players on strong seasons. They’ve earned these promotions.

Gomez and Clark will require 40-man roster moves. The Brewers could move *UPDATE* Johnny Hellweg (not Tyler Thornburg who is already there) to the 60-day DL easily enough. The other move could be simple, or a bit more interesting depending on how the Brewers choose to go.

Report: Brewers Win Waiver Claim on First Baseman, Cannot Work Out Trade

JM

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers were awarded a waiver claim earlier this week but were unable to work out a trade with the posting team. As such, the player was pulled back from waivers and will not be headed to Milwaukee for the balance of the season.

The player in question is Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, he of the National League-leading .317 batting average and good defense.

Morneau, who took a relatively inexpensive deal in Colorado during the off-season, has been very good for the Rockies in 2014 when he’s been healthy. He dealt with a bit of a neck injury around the non-waiver trading deadline, for example.

Unfortunately, in some ways, the Brewers were not able to work out a trade with Colorado to acquire Morneau. The Rockies’ front office has had astronomical asking prices for most of their players this season once they decided to sell. And they wouldn’t move some pieces that made little sense to hang on to (i.e. LaTroy Hawkins). Morneau doesn’t fit the latter. He’s under contract for 2015 at only $6.75 million with a mutual option for 2016 at just $9 million as well. He’s an affordable piece, even for a second-division club like the Rockies. In other words, he’s quite sensible to keep. As for the asking price, while we don’t know exactly what the Brewers offered, we do know that it was a package of players and that Colorado declined it and simply pulled Morneau back.

Morneau would have been a nice upgrade despite Lyle Overbay’s recent successes at the plate. Morneau plays good defense, crushes right-handed pitching, and isn’t terrible against southpaws. He’s not a Coors Field product either. He’s hit for a slightly higher average on the road in 2014, with matching slugging percentages of .500 both at home and away. He also possesses great career numbers at Miller Park. He doesn’t have the power of Mark Reynolds, but that .500 SLG as of press time amidst an overall slash line of .317/.360/.500, is nothing to sneeze at.

But we don’t need to worry about why Morneau would have been a good fit on the field. We also don’t need to worry about the specific pieces that were in the package offered.

As I told one of my radio stations when we recorded my segment about 10 minutes after the news broke (you can hear it today at 3:30pm in Wausau on ESPN Radio, by the by), while Morneau makes sense on paper, the Brewers’ best offer wasn’t deemed to be enough by Colorado. That’s what matters to me because Doug Melvin was willing to go to a point but not past it to somewhat improve a position. Colorado has every right to ask for the moon, but Melvin has a good track record of knowing what’s a fair return. If he didn’t think that the juice was worth the squeeze, then it probably wasn’t. It’s not ALL about 2014. It unfortunately never can be. And Melvin is right far more often than he isn’t when it comes to matters of roster decisions.

Let’s just hope it wouldn’t have made the difference.

BREAKING TRADE NEWS: Brewers Send Prospects Haniger, Banda to Diamondbacks

GerardoParra

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a pair of minor-league prospects; outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda.

Parra is expected to join the team tomorrow in St. Louis.

The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. “The addition of Parra gives us a veteran player who helps to balance our lineup and also brings Gold Glove defense,” said Melvin. Parra, 27, is batting .259 with 6 HR and 30 RBI in 104 games this season. He has made 98 starts (96g in RF, 2g in CF).

Signing as a non-drafted free agent on 8/30/04, Parra had spent his entire professional career in the Diamondbacks organization. He is a career .274 hitter with 39 HR and 250 RBI in 787 Major League games (2009-14). Known for his exceptional defense, Parra has won National League Gold Glove Awards in left field (2011) and right field (2013). Entering today, his 62 outfield assists since 2009 were tied for second (with two others) in the Major Leagues, trailing only the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (63).

To make room for Parra on the 25-man roster, outfielder Logan Schafer will be optioned to Triple-A Nashville. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Tyler Thornburg was moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Haniger, 24, was selected by the Brewers in the supplemental first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He batted .255 with 10 HR and 34 RBI in 67 games at Double-A Huntsville this season.

Banda, 20, was selected by the Brewers in the 10th round of the 2012 draft. He was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA and 2 saves in 20 games (14 starts) at Class-A Wisconsin this season.

From MLB's Twitter feed

From MLB’s Twitter feed

Rumors: What I Was Told About Brewers’ Interest in David Price, and When I Heard It

DavidPrice

There’s been a lot of talk today regarding the Brewers involvement in left-handed starting pitcher, the true ace of the Tampa Bay Rays, David Price. I’ve been sitting on a rumor for over three weeks now and may as well talk about it now since it’s the hot topic of the day.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com kicked things off by resurrecting the ghosts of CC Sabathia and, to a different degree, Zack Greinke in pointing out that the Brewers have made runs to the playoffs after acquiring ace pitchers. Sabathia, of course, was the 2008 in-season addition who carried the Brewers to the playoffs along with Ben Sheets.

Rosenthal and Morosi comment that the Brewers were “putting their ‘foot in the water'” on Price and that the results of Rays vs Brewers over the next few days could directly influence Price’s future, both in terms of whether and, if so, where he’ll be dealt. Well, what I was told is that three weeks ago, Melvin supposedly offered a package to the Rays that featured Jimmy Nelson as the centerpiece. I don’t know who else was discussed along with Nelson, but I was told that any package offered for discussion was a “non-starter”, at least at the time. What that means is that it simply wasn’t enough of a return for Tampa to consider. It lead to a report that the Brewers were viewed as “out” on Price at the time.

As teams have gotten back into the race, or fallen out of it, trade partners also fluctuate. Perhaps the Rays are more willing to deal with the Brewers now, and perhaps that’s because Melvin is willing to part with different pieces now than he was before. That, I don’t know. But I was told three weeks ago that Andrew Friedman and the Rays’ front office are valuing near-MLB prospects more than “high-ceiling, but further away from contributing types. Again, they may not have seen what they wanted to in that realm and are now willing to consider those “further away” prospects, but I’m not privy to any more recent discussions…at least not yet.

So, yes, the Brewers expressed interest. And while things may have changed in the last 22 days, initial information indicated that Melvin and company didn’t have the right package to pull off the major coup this time around.

And while I don’t expect anything to happen, it sure would be fun if they figured out a way to sweeten their offer.

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