Results tagged ‘ free agency ’

Three Brewers hit the market; three more coming

The celebration was still raging inside the Giants’ clubhouse in Arlington and outside in the streets of San Francisco on Monday night when baseball’s offseason business began. Before midnight, the Major League Baseball Players Association fired up the hot stove by releasing the names of 142 free agents, including three Brewers. 
Per new rules made public just last month, Milwaukee pitchers Dave Bush and Chris Capuano and infielder Craig Counsell were declared free agents immediately after the Giants clinched the World Series. Three more — pitchers Doug Davis and Trevor Hoffman and catcher Gregg Zaun — are expected to join the free agent pool when the Brewers decline their 2011 options. 
The new rules dictate that options must be resolved within three days of the end of the World Series, Milwaukee assistant general manager Gord Ash said. That would make Thursday at midnight ET the deadline. 
The rules also shorten the period of exclusive negotiation between teams and their own free agents from 15 days after the World Series to five. That window closes at midnight ET on Saturday. Beginning Sunday, free agents can negotiate with any team. 
Players typically exercise their right to test the open market, but the Brewers may show some interest in bringing back Capuano or Counsell. With Capuano, the question could be whether the team is willing to take on risk — the left-hander returned in 2010 from his second career Tommy John surgery but pitched well, posting a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances including a 2.91 ERA in six September starts. With Counsell, the question could be whether he views the Brewers as a legitimate contender — he batted .250 as a useful bench option and could draw interest from teams looking for a versatile defender. 
The three players with options, meanwhile, will probably move on. 
The highest profile of those players belongs to 43-year-old Hoffman, who notched his 600th career save amid a trying 2010 but was replaced as closer by rookie right-hander John Axford. Hoffman’s contract includes a $7 million mutual option for 2011 that the club will decline. The price of his buyout increased from $500,000 to $750,000 when Hoffman finished his 35th game of the season on Sept. 26. 
Davis’ deal includes a $6.5 million option with a $1 million buyout. His 2010 season was a bust because of health issues. 
Zaun’s contract includes a $2.25 million club option for next season, but he is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will almost certainly get a $250,000 buyout instead. Zaun said in August that he intends to play in 2011, but considering the Brewers have Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras on the 40-man roster and Mike Rivera signed to a Minor League contract, it’s difficult to envision Zaun returning. 
Of the Brewers’ free agents, only Hoffman qualified for compensation in the Elias rankings. Hoffman made the cut as Type B, meaning the Brewers would reap an extra pick between the first and second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but only if they offer Hoffman arbitration and he declines and then signs elsewhere. 
It’s a moot point, because the Brewers would not risk Hoffman accepting an arbitration offer. That means the Brewers will not have any extra Draft picks for the second straight year. 
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Free agency period is on

FAs2.jpg Let the offseason begin.

When the Yankees clinched the World Series on Wednesday night, it kick-started the season after the season for all 30 teams, not to mention the dozens of unattached players looking for new homes. Thursday began a 15-day period for those players to formally file for free agency, during which they may only negotiate with their current team.

The Brewers have seven such players, including two — center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall — who have been fixtures in the starting lineup in the past two seasons. The other players eligible to file are outfielder Frank Catalanotto, infielder Craig Counsell, second baseman Felipe Lopez, outfielder Corey Patterson and pitcher Claudio Vargas.

Two others must wait to learn whether they will join the free agent pool. The Brewers have 10 days after the World Series to decide whether to exercise their half of Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option and whether to pick up reliever David Weathers’ $3.7 million club option.

Looper, who led the team with 14 wins and tied for the National League with 34 starts but ran up a 5.22 ERA and led the Major Leagues by allowing 39 home runs, is a particularly interesting case. The Brewers would have to pay a $1 million buyout if they declined his option. 

In August it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Brewers, who are short on pitching prospects at the top levels of the Minor Leagues, would bring Looper back. But a high-ranking club official indicated during the final week of the season that Looper’s future with the team was now up for debate. He went 5-2 in September/October but posted a 6.58 ERA and a .349 opponents’ average. With general manager Doug Melvin intent on bringing in two new starters — his stated goal last month — and the Brewers’ four other ’09 starters under contract for 2010, Looper could conceivably be one of the odd men out. 

If the Brewers decline Weathers’ option, they owe him a $400,000 buyout. 

Among the players already eligible for free agency, Cameron, Counsell, Kendall and Vargas are the likely priorities. Lopez was excellent after a July trade from Arizona to Milwaukee — .with a 320 batting average and a .407 on-base percentage in 297 plate appearances — but Melvin made it clear that he is committed to Rickie Weeks at second base. If that’s the case, it appears the Brewers don’t have a spot for Lopez. 

Also on Thursday, the Brewers learned that Cameron, Kendall and Lopez all qualified as Type B players in the Elias Sports Bureau’s ranking system and that Looper and Weathers would also rank as Type Bs should they reach free agency.

That system considers a player’s last two seasons of statistical output and is used to determine which free agents are eligible for Draft compensation. In order to qualify, a free agent must be offered arbitration by his former team, but decline the offer and then sign elsewhere.

The former club of a Type A free agent receives the player’s new team’s first- or second-round pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft, depending on where that team finished in the standings, plus a “sandwich pick” between the first- and second rounds.  The former club of a Type B free agent receives only the sandwich pick.
 
Lopez.jpgLopez was one spot shy of qualifying as a Type A player. National League second baseman, shortstops and third basemen are grouped together by Elias, and Lopez was the first Type B, with a rating of 71.889. Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla was the final Type A, at 72.350.

For more on the Brewers’ free agent-eligibles, see my story on Brewers.com.

Of the players in question, who would you like to see back? Who should the Brewers let go?

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