Melvin explains Brewers’ quiet winter
The Brewers began the New Year as the only team yet to sign a Major League free agent since the end of last season.
General manager Doug Melvin was asked Monday what he would say to fans perturbed by the team’s inactivity.
“I would just say that it’s true, we haven’t done all that much,” Melvin said. “But just because you don’t respond in free agency doesn’t necessarily mean it’s thething to do. If you look at a lot of the teams that got involved in free agency in the past few years, it hasn’t been that successful for them — and then there are the players whose price range isn’t even close to what we could consider. We’re putting a lot of faith into our system.”
In Melvin’s view, the Brewers’ Major League roster is well-stocked aside from first base and the bullpen, areas club officials are still open to supplementing at the right price. The rest of the infield is set with catcher Jonathan Lucroy, second baseman Scooter Gennett (with Rickie Weeks’ role to be determined), shortstop Jean Segura and a healthy Aramis Ramirez at third. An outfield of Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez (who would be a free agent right now had he not signed an extension last spring) and Ryan Braun has the potential to be above-average offensively.
Melvin said the Brewers made the fundamental decision earlier in the offseason to “go with our young guys,” and thus plan to trust back-end rotation spots to Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada and Tyler Thornburg, with others vying for spots like Will Smith, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos and Jimmy Nelson. In the bullpen, Melvin would not mind adding some experience via free agency, but again expressed confidence in the club’s low-cost options.
“We weren’t going to get [Shin-Soo] Choo. We weren’t going to get Robinson Cano,” Melvin said, referring to top free agents. “We can look at $5-$6 million guys, but if we think our guys are better or as good at $500,000, why would we make a move just to make a move?”
Instead, the Brewers have stood pat.
“We’ve sort of been on the sidelines with free agency this year,” Melvin conceded. “We’re putting a lot of faith in the players that performed for us in the second half of the year. We’re expecting Ryan Braun to come back and perform.
“Anything else, we’re always open to discussions, but it’s still got to be good for the ballclub. Our bullpen is an area that we’ve talked about maybe whether we would add an experienced piece or not. … First base, I’ve had ongoing discussions with [Mets general manager] Sandy Alderson, but we haven’t gotten to anything where we’re comfortable with the deal from our side, and he’s not been comfortable with the deal from his side.”
Melvin and Alderson had conversations about New York first baseman Ike Davis as far back as General Managers Meetings in November, and met several times at the Winter Meetings a month later. The Mets’ price is high — they asked the Brewers for Thornburg, and the Orioles for top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. The Brewers would rather trade a position player, perhaps from a stable of outfielders that remains reasonably deep, even with the trade of Norichika Aoki.
Melvin declined to say whether the Mets’ asking price for Davis, who was demoted to Triple-A at one point last season, was higher than expected.
“I don’t ever get into that,” Melvin said. “Everybody makes the deal that they feel is the best deal for them. I don’t ever consider whether asking prices are too high on [trades] or not, because you don’t know until after the deal and you’ve seen players perform.
“I think we’ve pretty well stood by — the one thing we’ve done is we do not want to give up pitching.”
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