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.
Brewers officials reached the same conclusion as the article’s author, that there were too few teams seeking a second sacker this winter, so they declined to make such an offer. Lopez was a Type B free agent, so Milwaukee would have received a compensatory Draft pick between the first- and second rounds next June had they offered Lopez arbitration and he declined before signing with another club.
Looking at the market, the Brewers worried that Lopez would accept. He’s listed as earning $3.5 million last season, but I’m told that the figure didn’t include incentives that pushed his actual salary higher. Lopez had an outstanding year, so had accepted the Brewers’ offer of arbitration, he might have topped $6 million for 2010.
Given Milwaukee’s need for pitching, GM Doug Melvin decided that was too high a price for a player who could end up on the bench, so he let Lopez go, re-signed Craig Counsell for one year and $2.1 million and spent the rest of his free agent cash on starter Randy Wolf and reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Melvin says he still has some flexibility left over to troll the market in January and February for bargains. If he doesn’t find any deals to his liking, Melvin could retain that flexibility into June and July to make a pre-trade deadline deal.
The key, of course, is that Brewers officials are committed to Rickie Weeks as their second baseman. Weeks missed five months of the 2009 season after undergoing wrist surgery but is on track to be ready for 2010. Weeks still has two seasons of club control before he reaches free agency. He earned $2.45 million last year and is eligible for arbitration.
FanGraphs.com suggests that some of the second baseman on the market might have to switch positions to find homes. I’m not sure whether Lopez and agent Scott Boras are open to that, but if they are, Lopez could be well-positioned. He has played 602 career games at shortstop, 300 at third base, 95 at third base and 17 in the outfield.