Reports: Pirates, Red Sox also went for Hardy

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic, who cited an American League source, the Pirates offered closer Matt Capps to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Instead, Hardy went to the Twins last week for speedy outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Many Brewers fans seem underwhelmed by the return for Hardy given Milwaukee’s obvious need for pitching, and this bit of news might not make those fans feel much better. Capps is 26 years old and pretty good; despite a 5.80 ERA in 2009 he had 27 saves, and he has 67 career saves and a 3.61 ERA.

But I’m guessing that GM Doug Melvin had a number of reasons for being unmoved, chief among them that he was set on acquiring a starting pitcher or a center fielder for Hardy. He also sought players who could be under team control for the long haul, and Capps is two years shy of free agency (Gomez, for comparison, is under team control for four more years). Gomez is also much cheaper than Capps, who earned $2.425 million in 2009 and will get a raise in arbitration, giving Melvin more money to spend on starters. A deal with the Pirates also would have kept Hardy in the National League Central, and based on comments last week by Reds GM Walt Jocketty, it appears that Melvin was bent on moving Hardy out of the division.

I also wonder if the bullpen is low on Melvin’s list of priorities because he’s banking on moving at least one of his ’09 starters to the bullpen. That will all shake-out later depending on whether Melvin exercises Braden Looper’s 2010 option and whether he trades any of the team’s other incumbent starting pitchers (Manny Parra, perhaps?).

Another report in the Boston Globe over the weekend said that the Red Sox offered Minor League right-hander Michael Bowden but the Brewers wanted either starter Clay Buchholz or future closer Daniel Bard. Not so, Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt on Tuesday at the General Managers’ Meetings in Chicago.

To me, here is Melvin’s key quote from his conference call following the Hardy trade: “In the end, there wasn’t anybody who matched the ability of Carlos Gomez. When you can’t get pitching back, you try to find something to improve your pitching.”

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