Brewers met with Mets today; Hart’s agent, too

Some notes from Doug Melvin’s media session at the Winter Meetings:

— First base remains the top priority, and the Brewers are positioning themselves to fill that need via free agency (the preference, because it wouldn’t cost a player) and via trade. Melvin had his first formal meeting with agent Jeff Berry of CAA Sports on Monday regarding Hart, the longtime Brewer who is a free agent for the first time, but characterized the discussion as preliminary.

“I think we just met with him and have an understanding of where they want to be,” Melvin said. “A bit more of an update as to where they’re at and we want to go. We have to make decisions based off what we think they’re looking for.”

Asked whether there was an offer being pushed back and forth, Melvin said, “Nothing  being pushed back and forth. But I think there’s certain parameters that there’s an understanding [about].”

Melvin declined to say how far apart the sides’ parameters were, or whether the Brewers would be willing to go beyond one year for Hart, who underwent surgery on each of his knees in 2013 and missed the entire season. Melvin said he expects to meet again with Berry here in Orlando.

Back in September, Hart said he would be willing to re-sign with the Brewers at a discount after earning $10 million in 2013. Now the sides are trying to agree on the definition of “discount.”

“I think he was sincere in less money, it’s just how much less?” Melvin said. “Right now, our negotiations are in words, and not numbers.”

— Melvin also met with Mets GM Sandy Alderson, renewing a discussion that began last month at the General Managers Meetings. The Mets have a surplus of first baseman, with arbitration-eligible Ike Davis and Lucas Duda believed to be available, and even after trading Norichika Aoki to Kansas City, the Brewers still have some outfielders available. Melvin and Alderson talked about an Aoki-for-Davis swap last month, “but we didn’t want to do that,” said Melvin, who got left-hander Will Smith from the Royals instead.

Of his chat with Alderson, Melvin said, “Just conversation.”

It’s pretty clear that free agency is the preferred route in this case.

“I think that’s what teams prefer to do if they’re not giving up Draft picks when they sign them,” Melvin said.

— The Brewers are also monitoring the relief market, but want to settle first base first first. The preference is for an experienced reliever who has closed games, but it’s a short list. So far, the club hasn’t discussed bringing back John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez, both of whom fit the bill.

“It depends on what we’re putting into the first base situation,” Melvin said. “We don’t want to go and spend money on bullpen help and then we find, ‘Oh man, we could have had this guy at first base instead.’ That all interacts with each other. We’re not in a situation where we can go and do what we want on two or three spots and worry about it later.”

— Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny underwent shoulder surgery last week, assistant general manager Gord Ash revealed. Gorzelanny, who did not pitch after Sept. 2, needed what Ash described as a “clean-up” of the joint and is expected to be rehabbing until mid-March. Because he is ticketed for a bullpen role, the Brewers think Gorzelanny will have enough time to be ready by Opening Day.


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