Here come the Greinke rumors
The Brewers are still being linked to the top position player available in free agency, outfielder Josh Hamilton, despite general manager Doug Melvin’s repeated insistence that he’s out of their price range. Now it looks like Melvin may have to swat away similar rumblings about the market’s top pitcher.
Melvin has consistently said that he expects Greinke to garner an open-market contract out of reach for the Brewers, who are in the process of paring payroll after pushing over $100 million last season for the first time in club history.
But Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com passed along an interesting anecdote last night:
The Brewers are at least considering Josh Hamilton, the top position player on the free-agent market, as was reported here over a week ago. But what about Zack Greinke? Well, Brewers GM Doug Melvin mentioned off-handedly he’d had a recent conversation with Greinke, the former Brewers star and the top free-agent pitcher.
Melvin said by way of explanation that he just likes talking baseball with Greinke. But pitching is obviously Milwaukee’s need, and Melvin seemed to at least have inquired about Greinke’s desires when he reported back that Greinke “didn’t tip his hand.”
Neither did Melvin. Not too much, anyway.
Heyman goes on to enumerate the obstacles in the way of a Brewers push for either player, including they they already have a reliable — at least a defensively reliable — center fielder in Carlos Gomez, and that they do not have endlessly deep pockets. Melvin had joked to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that while the Brewers have a connection to Hamilton in the form of hitting coach Johnny Narron, Hamilton’s former “accountability partner” in Cincinnati and Texas, they would need a connection to US Bank to come up with enough cash to make a deal work.
Heyman asked again this week whether Melvin considered the Brewers a long shot for Hamilton, and Melvin responded with one word: “Very.”
As for Greinke, remember that the Brewers offered a nine-figure extension in late June or early July and were turned down by the pitcher, who, along with agent Casey Close, indicated a desire to gauge interest in the open market. The Angels want to re-sign Greinke badly. The Dodgers could get involved. And the Braves. And others.
Could this be a slow play by Melvin, to wait around on the fringes of the Greinke sweepstakes? Sure. If the fit makes sense, Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio have shown on multiple occasions a willingness to bust the budget and “go for it.” Melvin legitimately loves Greinke as a person and as a pitcher, and Greinke was sincere when he said he felt like he fit in well in Milwaukee.
But is Greinke just as much a long shot for the Brewers as Hamilton? Yes again.
So, maybe that recent conversation between Melvin and Greinke was nothing more than two baseball fans catching up. Considering the Winter Meetings are still more than three weeks away, and the start of Spring Training still three months away, I’d wager to guess that we are all a long way from finding out.
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