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.
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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