Brewers Hope To Talk To Sabathia This Week
By By Jay Sorgi
Baseball's winter meetings often bring big free agent signings.
Before the meetings begin next week, Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin hopes to get the biggest of those free agents, pitcher CC Sabathia, to meet in person with him in the effort, against great odds, to keep him in a Brewers uniform.
The two sides haven't talked recently, but Melvin hopes to have contact with Sabathia and his agent in the next six days.
"We haven't had a lot of conversation with them," said Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
"They've got our offers on the table. They pretty well hold it until they get some other offers.
The Milwaukee Brewers covered their bases in offering arbitration to Sabathia, the left-hander who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and proved to be a leading force in bringing Milwaukee to the postseason for the first time in 26 years.
Giving Sabathia the option of arbitration would guarantee the Brewers compensation with draft picks should another team sign the free-agent pitcher away from Milwaukee.
Melvin: $100,000,000 Offer "Best Foot Forward"
Even though offers from teams like the New York Yankees reportedly outnumber what Milwaukee is so-far willing to give Sabathia ($140,000,000 from New York, $100,000,000 from Milwaukee), Melvin still hopes the team doesn't have to take the draft picks, because they'd then be taking Sabathia back.
But that is a long shot, considering the Yankees' offer and teams like the Angels and Giants reportedly making similar forays into the Sabathia sweepstakes.
"We've put our best foot forward," claims Melvin.
"That's what free agency is about. It's about the player being able to choose where he wants to play, maybe because of geography, maybe because of family, maybe because of the ball club, the organization, whatever."
"We gave a very substantial offer. The tough part about free agency is that it's out of our hands. We don't control it at all. It's controlled by the player and by the agent."
Melvin said last month he thought the Yankees were overbidding with their $140,000,000 pitch to Sabathia.
But he understands how market size, and the revenues a team in New York City and similar markets make, can drive the market for a player like Sabathia.
"I guess I wasn't totally surprised in that regard, because they have made the statement that they really did want to pursue him," states Melvin.
"They live in a different market than what we do."
Teams Pinching Pennies while Brewers Pitch for Pitchers
Still, he does have some shock about the Yankees considering the current economy and how it's slowing down free agent activity.
"The teams are a little more cautious, a little more aware of their costs, with the economy and all that. That's slowed up the process a little bit."
Teams aren't just watching their pennies because of the problems on Wall Street.
Many, including the Yankees, have discovered in recent years that increasing their payroll doesn't necessarily increase the number of championship banners that they raise above their stadium's outfield walls.
"A lot of teams have more than $100,000,000 (in payroll) and didn't go to the postseason, and there were teams like ourselves and Tampa Bay that did go to the postseason that had payroll that were less than $100,000,000," states Melvin.
"Ownership and general managers have looked at spending the money and trying to get high priced free agents, or trading high priced players, and it hasn't been successful the past few years. That's where there's a lot of guarded strategies by major league ballclubs."
Milwaukee's strategy, according to Melvin, doesn't seem so guarded.
"We're going to have a very good corps of players, all of our young players," explains Melvin.
"We had four young players that have been all-stars in their first two years of playing in Fielder, Hardy, Hart and Braun.
"We have those four players to build around, and we'll get (pitchers) Yovani Gallardo back, and Manny Parra. They're two young pitchers who are ready to take that next step. David Bush pitched very well the second half.
"We have a very good corps of players, and some positional player prospects coming along."
What they're looking for, and having potential trouble finding, is young arms to replace Sabathia, and potentially outgoing starter Ben Sheets and reliever Brian Shouse, who are both free agents as well.
"We're a little thin on the pitching side and that's what we've been trying to find is some pitching, either by trade which is very difficult because teams hold on to their pitching.
"They're not willing to give up pitching, so free agency is the only other route to go. They get very expensive, so there's a real fine line to balance there.
"I've talked to a number of clubs now, and even on the trade front, it will be very slow. Again, because teams have looked at it, they're holding on to their young players. We're looking for some young pitching."