The Brewers announced Friday they had signed catcher Matt Treanor to a Minor League contract and invited him to big league Spring Training camp.
Treanor, 33, was a capable backup for the Florida Marlins from 2004-2008 but was limited to nine games with the Tigers last season because of a right hip injury. In 278 Major League games, he is a .232 hitter with eight home runs and 70 RBIs.
Treanor is a right-handed hitter and thrower. He turns 34 on March 3.
He’s also known as the husband of volleyball star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May.
Treanor gives the Brewers further depth behind the plate. The club signed Gregg Zaun two weeks ago and promised him the majority of starts, but Treanor will presumably compete for the backup job alongside waiver pick-up George Kottaras and in-house prospects Jonathan Lucroy and Angel Salome. Kottaras, Lucroy and Salome have a decided advantage in that they are on the 40-man roster.
Until last week the Brewers also had incumbent backup Mike Rivera, but he became a free agent on Dec. 12 when the team declined to tender a contract.
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Add former Rangers right-hander Kameron Loe to the list of pitchers hoping to win a big-league job with the Brewers in Spring Training.
Loe’s agent, Page Odle, confirmed that the big right-hander had agreed to terms with the Brewers on a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to big league camp, where he expects to compete as a starter. The 28-year-old who stands 6-foot-8 pitched in 147 Major League games for the Rangers from 2004-2008 but spent the 2009 season in Japan.
“It gave me an opportunity to secure my family, and I couldn’t give that up,” Loe said. “Now, I’m very excited to be back. It’s always been my dream to be a Major League player, and Japan was cool, but I never grew up wanting to be a Japanese Major Leaguer.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was first to report Friday that Loe had reached a deal with Milwaukee. The Pirates were among the other teams interested in Loe, according to the newspaper, and Odle said that at least seven clubs were “heavily involved.”
Loe will earn $650,000 if he makes Milwaukee’s Major League roster and can make another $200,000 in incentives. The deal includes a June 1 “out” that allows Loe to opt for free agency if he isn’t in the Majors.
He drew upwards of $1.1 million from the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks last season but made only six starts before he was demoted to the Japanese minor leagues.
“It was fun and frustrating and a whole lot of other things all rolled into one,” Loe said. “But I’m really glad I did it. It was a chance to see another country and continue playing baseball. It’s something I’d consider again later in my career, but right now I want to see what I can do in the Major Leagues.”
Loe was 19-23 with a 4.77 ERA in 47 starts and 60 relief appearances for the Rangers. He served in every capacity from starter to middle reliever to late-inning mop-up man and pitched most extensively in 2007, when he was 6-11 with a 5.36 ERA in 23 starts and five relief appearances for Texas.
He most recently was pitching in the Mexican Winter League, where Loe capped a six-game stint with a win for Aguilas over Mochis on Tuesday. Loe had a 3.20 ERA in five starts and one relief stint with a sinking fastball that reached the 87-92 mph range. He hopes to work up to 93-94 mph when he resumes a regular throwing program ahead of Spring Training, and also features a slider, a curveball and a change-up.
Loe has returned to the U.S. and will be married on Jan. 9, about a month before reporting to Spring Training camp to compete as a starter. The Brewers have already signed former Major League starters Chris Capuano and John Halama to Minor League contracts with big league camp invites. The team also inked one of Loe’s former Rangers teammates, left-hander A.J. Murray, to a similar deal, but Murray pitched exclusively as a reliever last season.
The Brewers were the first team to make an offer this winter, Loe said, and he likes the fit.
“They’re one of the teams I’ve really enjoyed watching over the past few years,” Loe said. “And it looks like a good opportunity for me, whether that’s starting or in the bullpen. Milwaukee came after me right away, and it seems like they have an opportunity to have a big future.”
During his Rangers days, Loe’s pet boa constrictor, a female named Angel, was just as popular in Arlington as her famous handler. A group of pet-friendly fans dubbed themselves the “Snake Pit,” and a few members of that group agreed to “snake-sit” Angel when Loe left for Japan. The family has since adopted Angel permanently, so she won’t be visiting Miller Park.
“It’s just too hard to travel around with a 35-pound, seven-foot snake,” Loe said. “I’m lucky that she ended up with some great people.”
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- Field Outfield Box $160
- Loge Infield Box $152
- Club Outfield Box $144
- Terrace Box $84
- Loge Bleachers $80
- Terrace Reserved $60
FoxSports.com says that the Brewers and Mariners had discussions this winter about a trade that would send right-hander Brandon Morrow to Milwaukee for third baseman Mat Gamel. The talks didn’t move forward, according to the report, but it cited a source saying the idea could be revisited later.
- The Mariners have needs at first base, third base and designated hitter, and while they could always bring back free agents Russell Branyan for first and Adrian Beltre for third, Gamel could be a fit at any of those spots.
- Gamel had a down year in 2009 as he bounced between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is well aware of his offensive talents because Zduriencik is the one who, as Brewers amateur scouting director, drafted Gamel in the fourth round in 2005.
- The Brewers’ need at third base was eased last season by the emergence of Casey McGehee, who didn’t begin playing every day until mid-May but still managed to lead all Major League rookies with 66 RBIs. At the moment, McGehee, who is under club control for five more seasons, is penciled-in as the starter, and Gamel seems more likely to return to Triple-A Nashville.
- The Brewers remainon the lookout for pitching, and Morrow fits the mold of what Melvin might be seeking. Morrow is still one season away from qualifying for arbitration, giving him four years of club control before free agency. The Brewers are running out of payroll space after signing a slew of free agents in the past two weeks, so any subsequent additions would have to be affordable.
- Perhaps Morrow is more available now that the Mariners have acquired Cliff Lee in the blockbuster, three-team trade with the Phillies and Blue Jays. The deal gives Zduriencik a pair of aces — Lee and right-hander Felix Hernandez — atop the starting rotation.
Interesting take from FanGraphs.com about the glut of available second baseman and the lack of interested clubs. I thought I would pass it along for the Brewers fans still debating the Brewers’ decision to let Felipe Lopez go into free agency without offering him arbitration.
LaTroy Hawkins’ two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Brewers was finalized Wednesday afternoon after the right-hander passed a physical. Here’s the breakdown of his’ contract:
Mike Cameron and the Red Sox reached a tentative agreement on a two-year deal, per the Associated Press. Cameron manned center field in Milwaukee the past two seasons, but he earned $10 million in 2009 and the Brewers went younger, cheaper and perhaps a half-step better defensively when they traded for Carlos Gomez earlier this winter.
Craig Counsell and Randy Wolf became the 37th and 38th players on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster when they signed their contracts on Monday. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins should become No. 39 on Wednesday, when he’s scheduled for a physical to finalize a two-year deal, and another reliever, Claudio Vargas, should become No. 40 after his physical on Friday to finish a one-year pact.
So where do the Brewers go from here? General manager Doug Melvin might be finished with his major moves, partly because he’s butting against the team’s payroll ceiling and partly because he’s addressed the major holes by acquiring Wolf, Hawkins and new catcher Gregg Zaun and retained the versatile Counsell. Melvin will still have an eye on potential deals, but any splash after this week would probably come via trade, and not via free agency.
“As far as higher-profile free agents, I don’t think we’re going to get involved,” Melvin said Monday.
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