If Todd Coffey makes another mad dash from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound at Miller Park, it will probably be in another team’s uniform.
Coffey and utility man Joe Inglett were the only two of eight arbitration-eligible Brewers not tendered a contract before Thursday’s 10:59 p.m. CT deadline for teams to do so. The decision means the right-handed reliever and the left-handed bench bat joined the pool of Major League free agents.
The Brewers did decide to retain the rights to their six other arbitration-eligibles: First baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Rickie Weeks, center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Manny Parra, Kameron Loe and Carlos Villanueva. Those players are all considered signed for 2011, with their salaries to be determined later by baseball’s arbitration process.
“We didn’t have many discussions about [non-tendering] the other players,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
Melvin said general manager Gord Ash will stay in touch with Inglett’s agent, Ryan Ware, about returning at a lower price, but it appears Coffey will look for work elsewhere.
The decision to cut ties with Coffey was largely a financial one. He earned $2,025,002 in 2010 and would have been in line for a raise in arbitration despite a somewhat disappointing season in which Coffey suffered a thumb injury swinging the bat in late May and posted a 5.35 ERA over his final 43 appearances. He lost his job as the team’s primary right-handed setup man to Loe, who had a solid first season in Milwaukee and will cost less than Coffey in 2011.
“The process allows the player to see if there’s a better fit for him, and from our standpoint it allows us to look at a larger pool of players,” Melvin said.