It’s now been officially over one week since the Milwaukee Brewers were ousted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the franchise’s first ever appearance in the NLCS, and with the offseason just around the corner, it’s safe to say nothing is certain regarding the future of the organization.
The most important and well-known issue surrounding the future of the club, without question, is Prince Fielder’s free-agent status. Will he come back and re-sign with Milwaukee or will he take the road most often traveled by luminary sluggers of the past and sign a brand-new contract with a desperate team?
With speculation and rumors mounting with each passing day, Fielder’s name is sure to come about in more ways than one.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin addressed the media last Wednesday, saying:
“We still want to get to a World Series and win a World Series. Our goals haven’t changed, our mind-set hasn’t changed. The roster probably does change. Every year in baseball rosters change.”
Melvin speaks the absolute truth. Making $15.5 Million in 2011, Fielder was the single highest-payed player on Ron Roenicke’s roster, eating up roughly 20 percent of Milwaukee’s payroll. After a stellar campaign, amassing 38 HR, 120 RBI, .299 BA and drawing a league-high 32 intentional walks, you can expect an elevated 2012 salary from the slugging first-baseman.
As for his potential replacement? Melvin had this to say:
“I’ve seen some people writing reports that Mat Gamel is a productive big league guy. I look at guys like Nelson Cruz and David Freese. And I look at Mat Gamel and Mat Gamel has had as good of years as they did in the minor leagues. He just hasn’t had the chance because we haven’t given him the chance. David Freese is 27 years old, Nelson Cruz is 31. Mat Gamel is 26, so is this the time to give Mat Gamel a chance? That’s something we have to seriously consider.”
In 2011, the lefty Gamel batted .310 with 28 HR and 96 RBI, to go with a .540 SLG, each of which rank in the top five of all Brewers minor-league prospects last season. There’s a chance Milwaukee could bring in veteran backup for Gamel if the 27-year-old stumbles a bit out of the gate next season; but nonetheless expect Gamel to hold down the fort for Milwaukee at first base in 2012.