With Dempster gone, Brewers pull back from free agency

I was just on the phone with Doug Melvin when he received an email from Ryan Dempster’s agent, Craig Landis.

“He decided to do with the Red Sox. Thanks for showing the interest and thanks for making the offer.”

The Brewers’ top — only? — starting pitching target fell off the board Thursday when Dempster and the Red Sox reached terms. FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal said it was a two-year, $26.5 million deal.

Melvin confirmed that he’d made a formal offer to Dempster, who made sense for the Brewers as an innings eater, a quality clubhouse presence and a groundball pitcher with a long history of success at hitter-friendly Miller Park.

“I don’t want to say what our offer was, but we made what we considered to be the best offer we could do,” Melvin said after news of the deal broke. “He decided to go with the Red Sox. They have to make the determination about the gap, if there’s a big gap in money. And there might have been. The other thing is, there might have been other teams involved, too.”

Dempster will be 36 in May, but appealed to the Brewers as a veteran compliment to right-hander Yovani Gallardo, the only lock for next year’s starting rotation. Dempster was often at his best against Milwaukee, pitching to a 2.65 ERA in 49 games, 27 starts — including a 2.66 ERA in 26 games, 14 starts at Miller Park.

Now what?

Potentially very little.

“I’ve said that all along, that we want to give an opportunity to our younger pitchers,” Melvin said. “We haven’t done that.”

So the Brewers appear content going to Spring Training with in-house candidates vying for rotation spots behind Gallardo, a list that includes Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers. Tyler Thornburg and the Brewers’ 2012 Minor League pitcher of the year, Hiram Burgos, both ticketed for Triple-A Nashville in a perfect world, may have to be pushed up.

Those young arms would fit the team’s financial plan, as the Brewers are in the process of reducing payroll by as much as 20 percent from a club-record $100 million-plus in 2012.

“Our young pitchers earned an opportunity last year, with the way they pitched, that they should at least be given a chance,” Melvin said. “Dempster was one guy that we did think we had a chance on. We liked his character, we liked his experience of pitching in this division. Beyond him, I don’t see the next level of starters that we’re going to get involved with.

“We have some names there [in the system]. We’re not going to get caught up in this frenzy of free agency. We still have to be smart with what we do.”

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy.

8 Comments

Frustrating! We have one of the most prolific offenses in the league with mediocre pitching staff. If we don’t get quality starts we’ll be dealing with a fatigued bullpen as the season progresses. Now the question is do you extend Yo?

I love it. The guy who takes Dempster’s spot in the rotation may very well pitch as well as him at about a twenty-fifth of the cost. That’s not considering the season after that.

I think in a way the fanbase has been converted to Melvin’s typical M.O. of signing FAs, burying prospects and preferring veterans. I don’t get what’s up with Melvin now, but I expect that the Melvin followers will not be happy with Melvin.

I’d like to start by saying I really like our young pitching. There is no ace, and I’m not convinced there is a #2, but there are quite a few that could be solid #3s and that’s awesome. That being said, creating the 25 man roster with the options on the current 40 man roster will not result in a team that will compete, unless EVERYTHING goes right and how often does that ever happen for even the best teams?

We’re nearing a dangerous time. Gomez and Hart become free agents in 2014, and quite a few do so in 2015. Ryan Braun isn’t going getting any younger. Brewers should seriously consider trading Gomez(or extending which is my preference), trading Hart, trading Ramirez, and possibly even entertain the idea of trading Gallardo. We don’t have any prospects at 3B, CF(which is fine if we extend Gomez), RF and to a lesser extent 2B(or SS if Segura gets moved there) and 1B(Morris is here, but we have to see if he can repeat). We’re also lacking front end starting pitcher prospects. I’m not saying we have to trade these guys to reload, but 2014 doesn’t look like we’ll have a clearly better team, especially if Hart and Gomez are gone. We’re also looking at possibly the last time we’ll have a decent amount of MLB players, with value, to trade. If we’re not improving the team this winter by signing a starter and a high leverage reliever or two, then it only makes sense to sell off a couple of guys to make the team better for 2014 and beyond.

Very frustrating, Milwaukee has a fan base that shows up year after year and this team seems to be getting older. Melvin needs to let go of some of the guys that have been with Milwaukee for awhile (Hart, Weeks, Gomez ect) if we are not going to sign free agents or make trades what is he doing. I get a call once a week to re-new my season tickets (20 pack) but we have a team right now that will not reach 90 wins and most Likely finish 3rd in the division.. I will continue to show up and support the team but we need to do something to improve te team, everyone around us is making moves it is time to counter…

Okay, we don’t get Dempster, go after Sanchez. What is this ballclub so afraid of? They talk about winning but, when given the chance to do so, they balk. C’mon Mr. Antanasio, Mr. Melvin, Mr. Ash, make winning happen!

This just in… Doug Melvin will buy the 5000 tickets for a late September game to be given away for his poor performance in the GM spot (much like Suppan, Accord, Gagne of years past)!

Axford…

I like the idea of waiting to see how the young guys do. Maybe make a trade during the season.
I found the Melvin quote a bit odd. Is he saying that the Brewers were not even close with their offer or offered more?

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