Jim Edmonds is indeed going to launch a comeback in the National League Central, but not with the Cardinals.
The Brewers closed a deal with the veteran outfielder on Thursday for a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp, where Edmonds will compete with a cast of other left-handed hitters for a spot on Milwaukee’s bench.
Edmonds made it clear at the Cardinals’ fan fest last week that he wanted to get back into the game after sitting out the 2009 season. He will turn 40 in June, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin likes that Edmonds can play all three outfield positions and is eager to reach some personal milestones. Edmonds is 18 home runs shy of 400 for his career.
In parts of 16 Major League seasons, Edmonds is a .284 hitter with four All-Star appearances to his credit and eight Gold Gloves. He last played in 2008, hitting .235 with 20 homers and 55 RBIs in a year split between the Padres and Cubs.
“He’s left-handed, he’s a professional, he can play everywhere, he knows the division and he’s hungry,” Melvin said. “I’m sure you lose a step as you get older, but I have a lot of faith in the veteran guys like Edmonds and [Craig] Counsell and [Trevor] Hoffman. [Edmonds] has his juices flowing and he wants to play. This guy has had a pretty good career.”
Melvin wouldn’t say specifically what Edmonds would earn if he makes the Major League roster but said the deal was similar to the one he stuck with Gabe Kapler prior to the 2008 season. Kapler came out of semi-retirement that year to play with the Brewers for $800,000 and was a productive extra outfielder, hitting .301 in 245 at-bats. Edmonds and Kapler share the same agent: Paul Cohen.
FoxSports.com reported that Edmonds would make $850,000 if he makes the team and could earn another $2-$2.5 million in incentives.
Assuming he seals a deal and then wins a job, Edmonds could be yet another left-handed bat off the bench for the Brewers, who have a very right-handed starting lineup. The current fourth outfielder, Jody Gerut, is also a left-handed hitter, and so are nonroster invitees Trent Oeltjen, Logan Schafer and Adam Stern. The Brewers also picked up utility man Joe Inglett off waivers on Wednesday, and he hits left-handed, as does backup infielder Craig Counsell. The Brewers officially list Hernan Iribarren as an infielder, but he can play outfield, too.
The Edmonds deal could cap the Brewers’ offseason maneuvering, though Melvin said the door remained open to a Minor League deal with left-hander Mark Mulder.
“You’re always working, looking at things that could help your club,” Melvin said. “But I don’t know where else we would add right now.”
Edmonds will wear No. 15 for the Brewers.