Was Brian Shouse a victim of the market?

Al over at Al’s Ramblings, one of my favorite Brewers blogs, pointed out what I forgot to amid all of the Brewers pitching moves this week. Brian Shouse, everyone’s favorite 40-year-old left-hander, officially signed his contract with the Rays and it was only a one-year deal.

We were told all along by Brian and by Brewers officials that the thing preventing his return to Milwaukee was Shouse’s wish for a two-year deal. Then, for the week or so that he reportedly had terms in place with Tampa Bay and was waiting for the deal to become official (I was told the Rays’ corresponding roster move contributed to the hold-up) it was reported that Shouse had, in fact, agreed to a two-year deal.

Instead, Shouse, who earned $2 million with the Brewers in 2008 and posted a 2.81 ERA, his best mark since 2004, took a pay cut to $1.35 million in 2009 and the Rays hold a $1.9 million option for 2010 with a $200,000 buyout. Remember that he declined the Brewers’ offer of arbitration to seek a two-year deal on the open market. I can’t imagine that a guy who put up such solid numbers over the last two years would have been in line for a pay cut in arbitration, so it appears Shouse settled for a one-year contract for less than what he could have earned from the Brewers.

Add Shouse to the list of players who got burned by the economic conditions this winter. When I talked to him in November, Shouse was very optimistic about his options and was getting serious interest from a number of teams including the Tigers and Cardinals. Then his name seemed to vanish from the rumor mill as the free agent market froze up. Another quality lefty reliever, Joe Beimel, is still looking for a job. (Our Dodgers reporter, Ken Gurnick, wrote an interesting story about Beimel this week.)

The Brewers will be going with a young guy in Shouse’s place. Mitch Stetter and R.J. Swindle will compete during Spring Training for a spot in the bullpen.

Pitchers and catchers reported today but do not take part in their first formal workout until Sunday. I’ll be heading down to Phoenix on Saturday morning and will try to hit the ground running.

– Adam 

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