Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings are a mere three weeks away, and to the overwhelming surprise of many, the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t planning on meeting with former first-baseman Prince Fielder and his agent, Scott Boras, to discuss the possibility of a brand new contract offer.
After an advantageous 2011 campaign filled with speculation as to where the slugging first baseman might end up, Brewers GM Doug Melvin has said that the club has no imminent plans to make an offer to the now 27-year-old Fielder, saying:
“At this point, it’s important that we let Scott and Prince test the market.”
Last spring, Milwaukee attempted to sign Fielder to a contract extension worth approximately $100 Million, but management had never received a counter offer from Boras and company. They then proceed to sign Ryan Braun, among others, to a five-year, $105 Million deal that would make him a Brewers through 2020.
Fielder, who unlike fellow free-agents Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, has yet to meet with any clubs to talk about a new deal. Many point to the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Nationals and even Giants as the most likely destinations for the big bopper this winter.
Does this mean the Brewers are officially out of the running for Fielder’s services next season? Certainly not. Owner Mark Attanasio has voiced his admiration for the youngster over the past few months, and claims that Milwaukee is “planning on participating in the sweepstakes.”
Nevertheless, one can’t expect there to be a surplus of dough available toward bringing Fielder back next season. Only time will tell whether Milwaukee has a practical shot at the slugger.
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According to SI.com’s MLB columnist Jon Heyman, the Brewers and Marlins are now among the leading contenders for the former Mets’ superstar shortstop.
“Sources indicate that Reyes tops the free-agent lists of the Marlins and Brewers, and other teams are likely to come into play, as well.”
Reyes, who will likely seek at least a new deal at or near 7-years this offseason, remains one of the most highly sought-after free-agents available of signing this winter, after Fielder and Albert Pujols, and will certainly command a considerably expensive contract this winter.
Last season, the speedy shortstop made $11 Million on his way to winning the NL batting title by just decimal points over Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. He also validated his worth by notching 7 HR, 44 RBI, 16 triples, .384 OBP and 39 stolen bases.
His defensive capabilities also make him a sublime addition for Milwaukee as they attempt to replace former shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt after a disastrous 2011 campaign with the Brewers.
In 2011, Reyes held his own in the field, maintaining a .968 FPCT and 4.32 range factor with New York. He also turned 75 double plays and committed 18 errors in 124 games played.
With each passing day, it’s becoming more likely that Milwaukee will be without Fielder next season and beyond. He is reportedly “aiming to beat Mark Teixeira’s $180 Million, eight-year deal”, and there’s a good chance his new paycheck could be coming from Theo Epstein and the Cubs.
Outside of Reyes, the free-agent market is essentially void of any shortstop options for Melvin to act on. That said, there’s a serious chance Milwaukee pulls the trigger on Reyes this winter. Only time will tell if a deal comes to fruition.
The saga that is the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2011-2012 offseason has yet to officially begin, yet there have been no shortage of rumors and speculation surrounding the reigning NL Central champions as they embark on the post-Prince Fielder era.
Among the many personnel decisions and player arbitration disputes ready to rear their ugly heads toward GM Doug Melvin is, as we’ve already alluded to, whether or not the club has enough dough to bring back their luminary veggie-consuming first baseman. Fielder, who amassed nothing short of MVP-caliber numbers in each of the last six seasons with the club, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in just a few short weeks, and will likely set the market for some of the top free-agents available this winter.
While many Brewers fans have become aware of the fact that their slugging first baseman will in fact not be back with the club in 2012 and the foreseeable future, there are in fact other topics up for discussion regarding what their beloved hometown teams intends on accomplishing this offseason.
One such topic will be whether or not Melvin intends on bringing in more pitching, particularly starting pitching, with Fielder’s massive contract coming off the books this offseason.
Fetching Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum via trade last winter drastically improved Milwaukee’s output on the mound from previous years. In 2010, the Brewers ranked 26th in MLB with a team 4.58 ERA and settled for just 75 quality starts from their starters. The presence of the two newly-acquired starters improved the rotation twofold.
For one, Milwaukee finished the 2011 regular season with MLB’s ninth-best team ERA (3.63), and would amass 98 quality starts — a healthy 23 more than the previous year. Moreover, it would also guarantee at least one more season of Greinke and Marcum, as they’re both under contract through 2012.
Still, the Brewers fell short of their goal of reaching the World Series, largely due to the staff’s ineffective postseason performances. Of the eight playoff teams, Milwaukee ranked second to last in team ERA (5.81) and would allow opponents to bat .294 — by far and away the highest BAA of any postseason starting rotation, which begs the question: should Melvin be in the works for acquiring a big-name free agent starter this winter?
According to Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that could very well be the case, reporting how the Brewers will be among the leading contenders for Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson this winter.
“Baseball writer Buster Olney puts the Brewers in the contenders’ group for Wilson.”
In 2011, Wilson led all Ranger pitchers in wins (16), ERA (2.94) and strikeouts (206), and will be one of the most coveted free-agent starters roaming the market this offseason.
If Milwaukee does in fact intend on pursuing the outspoken southpaw, they’ll likely need to surrender a large chunk of change to do so. Making $7 Million in 2011, Wilson made more than any Brewer starter last season, excluding Zack Greinke. Granted, his four postseason outings were nothing to write home about — going 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA, 22 SO, and 17 BB in just 24.2 IP — however he will nonetheless be a household name among baseball GMs, regardless.
It may not be imperative for Milwaukee to acquire and sign the 30-year-old Wilson to a brand-new contract this winter, but it could certainly be an opportunity worth exploring.
After a largely successful 2011 season in which numerous franchise records were rewritten, Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin finds himself in a bit of a predicament heading into the offseason.
First-baseman and MVP-candidate Prince Fielder is now set to become an unrestricted free-agent this winter, leaving open the possibility of a whole new offensive outlook for the Brewers in 2012. Many rumors suggest that Milwaukee will use their additional payroll to upgrade their bullpen. However, there are a number of issues hampering Milwaukee moving forward.
The Brewers are likely to upgrade the left side of the infield via free-agency this winter, particularly at shortstop. The club currently holds a $6 Million 2012 club option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt with a $2 Million buyout.
Melvin said Betancourt was “a better player than what his critics said” earlier this month, but there’s simply no disputing his horrendous .965 FPCT, which came via 21 errors in 2011.
With such a need for an upgrade at shortstop, could the Brewers actually go after a big-name free agent this offseason to shore things up?
Earlier this month, Milwaukee Brewers superstar left-fielder and MVP-candidate Ryan Braun disclosed is admiration for New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
Braun told the New York Post:
“I think there’s a better chance we sign [Reyes] than we re-sign Prince,” Braun told The Post yesterday, referring to slugging first baseman Prince Fielder.
Reyes, who managed to hold of Braun for the NL batting title by mere decimal points, is, like Fielder, set to become an unrestricted free-agent this winter. The speedy shortstop amassed 7 HR, 44 RBI, 101 R and 39 stolen bases, much to the enjoyment of Braun.
“[Reyes] is dynamic, man — he is one of the most exciting players in the game,” Braun said. “He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion and I enjoy watching him play. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. Whenever their games are on, I love watching him, man. He always plays the game the right way. He always plays hard. He runs everything out.”
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, both Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio will meet in early November on what they plan to offer Fielder in the offseason.
If the two sides aren’t able to come to an agreement early in the offseason, it may not be out of the question to suggest that Melvin could go after Reyes.
For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.