Hoffman responds to waiver rumors
Trevor Hoffman would prefer to remain a Brewer, but conceded that Thursday that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could be traded to a contender before the end of the month.
“I don’t know,” Hoffman said. “We’re 12 out.”
As in, the Brewers remained 12 games behind division-leading St. Louis in the National League Central after getting swept by the Reds at Miller Park this week. Cincinnati finished its three-game sweep with an 8-5 win over the Brewers on Thursday, just as FOXSports.com reported that a rival club had claimed Hoffman off the waiver wire.
If true, the Brewers and the mystery team would have 48 hours to work out a trade. If the sides cannot strike an agreement, the Brewers would pull Hoffman back.
Hoffman said he had no idea whether the report was true, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who is technically barred from discussing waivers, did not return a pair of phone calls on Thursday.
“I’m starting to learn that this is part of it,” said Hoffman, who mostly avoided late-season waiver rumors during his 16-year tenure with the Padres. Players with at least 10 years of service time including five years with their current team have the right to refuse trades, and it was well understood that Hoffman had no desire to leave San Diego.
Now he’s on a one-year contract with the Brewers and faces the prospect of re-entering free agency at season’s end. As the FOXSports.com report suggested, a deal seems unlikely. Hoffman projects as a “Type A” free agent in the mysterious Elias rankings. That means that if the Brewers keep him for the rest of this year, offer him salary arbitration over the winter and then let him sign elsewhere, they would reap two compensatory picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft before the end of the second round.
Since the claiming club is not likely to offer much in return for five weeks of Hoffman’s services, Melvin could be more inclined to hold out for the Draft picks.
Another hurdle, according to various recent reports that have speculated about Hoffman’s availability, could be baseball’s all-time saves leader’s desire to be a closer. Asked for his stance on Thursday, Hoffman said, “I’m not going to discuss any of that stuff.”
Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth inning in Wednesday’s extra-innings loss to the Reds and has been excellent in his first season away from San Diego in 16 years, posting a 1.85 ERA and 27 saves in 29 chances this year. But he has been gathering dust in the bullpen as the Brewers have fallen out of the pennant race, with only four save opportunities this month and only four appearances over the past two weeks.
“I’m about settling in,” Hoffman said. “I’ve been fortunate to have that comfort level here in Milwaukee from Day 1. Our focus is to try and climb back in this thing. I did say that we’re 12 out, but we have nine [games] left with St. Louis and Chicago is in the mix. We just got our starting rotation back. Hopefully, we can make a run. I’m a consummate optimist, and this is my team.”
Earlier this week, FOXSports.com reported that the Brewers had placed at least six players on waivers, a necessary step before making trades after July 31. Those players, according to the report, were Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Braden Looper and Felipe Lopez.
Cameron, Kendall, Looper and Lopez all project as “Type B” free agents who would net one compensatory Draft pick. Looper’s contract includes a mutual option for 2010 that the Brewers are likely to exercise. Counsell does not qualify for Draft compensation should he sign elsewhere next year.
Earlier this week, Melvin expressed an unwillingness to trade away his veterans, even the Brewers have remained 10-12 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.
“I can’t imagine that a team would give up a good player for one month, unless there is a key injury,” Melvin said Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate anything.”