Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted just minutes ago on how the club has reached an agreement with the veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez on a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2013. The monetary figure is unclear, but we will continue to update you as information becomes available.
According to Rosenthal himself via Twitter:
Last season, Gonzalez, 34, batted .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI in 149 games played with the Atlanta Braves. The veteran infielder was considered to be a potential target for Milwaukee at the beginning of the offseason, when GM Doug Melvin began to contemplate the many options that could upgrade his infield from a season ago.
After two grueling days at the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings, the Milwaukee Brewers and GM Doug Melvin may have finally found their replacement for former slugger Prince Fielder.
Late last night, sources confirmed that the Brewers are now considered the “favorites” to land former Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The Phillies and Angels were considered to be Milwaukee’s only real competition to land the slugger this winter, but talks have subsided and Philadelphia may be pulling out of the sweepstakes altogether.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Paul Kinzer, Ramirez’s agent, last night saying:
“He likes that team. He wants to go to a team that has pitching and gives him a chance to win a ring. He thinks the Brewers can do that.”
Ramirez has made it known that he is seeking either a four-year deal or a three-year deal with an option for a fourth. Many believe that since the Brewers aren’t likely to retain Fielder, Ramirez has become the club’s next best option. Last season, the 33-year-old, batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI last season in Chicago.
In addition to Ramirez, the Brewers also have a strong interest in free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as sources affirmed on Tuesday. No proposal has been made, but there nonetheless remains an active pursuit of the veteran shortstop.
With the Winter Meetings winding down, expect the rumor mill surrounding the club to be at full-force. With the mutual interest in Ramirez coming into focus, we could see a preliminary offering on the table by nightfall.
Next week (Dec. 5-8), the baseball cosmos will shift it’s collective focus to the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings, where many of the top available free-agents from the 2012 class are likely to ink brand new deals.
Between the apparent need for a veteran shortstop and eighth-inning setup man, GM Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t likely to be big players at this winter’s meetings (unlike last winter). However, there are needs that will be addressed and noteworthy names that could be acquired.
Here are five names Melvin and the Brewers will target at next week’s crucial meetings.
Furcal, 34, is clearly on the downswing of professional career, but that doesn’t mean the Brewers aren’t interested in signing him. The speedster was a centerpiece to the Cardinals’ late regular season push toward the postseason, batting .255 with 7 HR and 16 RBI, drawing 17 walks and only striking out 18 individual times. While he’s in no way the threat he once was on the bases, many believe he can still hold his own in the field. His durability may become a cause for concern, as he’s played just 174 games over his last two seasons. Melvin has been in brief discussions with Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer.
Outside of finding an upgrade at shortstop, there’s no doubting that Melvin’s No. 2 priority is to find a power reliever that can adequately replace Francisco Rodriguez next season.
Former Texas Rangers closer Frank Francisco could catch Melvin’s eye, as he’s proven to be one of the best strikeout relievers in all of MLB over the past few seasons. With the Blue Jays, Francisco garnered a 3.55 ERA while striking out 53 in 50.1 IP. He also notched 17 saves to go with a 9.41 K/9 ratio in 2011.
The market shouldn’t be too demanding for his services, so if the Brewers aren’t able to lock him up next week, they should be able to compete for him shortly thereafter.
If not for the acquisition of Jerry Hairston at the trade deadline last season, who knows how the Brewers’ season would’ve ended.
Acquired from the Nationals, the 35-year-old veteran utility-man extraordinaire batted .385 with 4 RBI and a .961 OPS in 11 postseason games as the full-time starting third baseman with Milwaukee. Reports suggest Melvin has already offered Hairston a one-year deal to return as a Brewer next season, however the price and duration have not yet been disclosed.
Obviously, Hairston will look to explore his options with such a high demand for quality infielding gloves this winter. His time for beating around the bush won’t last too much longer. Expect the Brewers to offer him a new-and-improved deal at next week’s meetings.
With the uncertain future of Casey McGehee at third base and Prince Fielder likely on his way out, now could be the time for the Brewers to act and sign a prominent name to bolster their lineup. Aramis Ramirez might be that chief addition.
Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, has said that at least four or five teams are seriously interested in signing the former Cub this winter. Could the Brewers be one of them? According to sources, Milwaukee could very much be a potential destination for Ramirez.
Last season, the long-time Cub batted .306 with 26 HR, 93 RBI and a .510 OPS. He’s reportedly seeking a four-year deal or three-year deal with an option. While the Brewers may or may not be willing to bestow such a contract, Ramirez remains a top target for Milwaukee at next week’s meetings.
I’m not sure if there’s any one player more qualified to fill Milwaukee’s shortstop void than Rollins.
Even at 33 years of age, the long-time Phillie can still swing the bat with great efficiency (.268 BA, 16 HR, 68 RBI last season). He’s also relatively volatile on the basepaths, notching 33 stolen bases last season with Philadelphia, which would work wonders in Ron Roenicke’s aggressive-style of running on the basepaths. More importantly, though, his seasoned glove would be a sumptuous add-on to Milwaukee’s infield. Yielding a .988 FPCT and 2.9 UZR last season, Rollins was still one of the top defensive shortstops in all of baseball.
Reports have shown Rollins is looking for a five-year deal this offseason, which is probably out of Milwaukee’s price range. However, Melvin has said he intends on touching base with Dan Lozano, Rollins’ agent, on a possible short-term deal.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter @alecdopp
Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings are nearly a week away, and former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder has yet to meet with any clubs to discuss a new contract.
Countless rumors and whispers around the league have surfaced regarding which team has the best shot at nabbing the burly slugger, but no team has yet to establish themselves as the front-runner in the sweepstakes. With free agency moving swiftly, here are five teams who look to have the best shot at signing Fielder.
Many teams want Prince Fielder. The Seattle Mariners need Prince Fielder. Last season, the Mariners backed up their claim as MLB‘s worst-hitting club by finishing dead last in slugging percentage (.348), on-base percentage (.292), runs scored (556) and RBI (435). Miguel Olivo led the club with just 19 HR and 62 RBI, and not one player batted over .276. With Fielder available for signing, now is the perfect chance for general manager Jack Zduriencik—who was largely responsible for drafting Fielder as a scout for the Brewers back in 2002—to bolster his club’s offensive firepower. Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman believes the Mariners will be in the hunt for Fielder’s services this winter. He does, however, remain skeptical about how much capital management will have to work with.
The foregone conclusion around MLB is that Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs will go after either Fielder or Albert Pujols this winter, as the club is in serious need of a premium bat to bolster their offensive output. With the money available, Epstein should have a great shot at reeling in the hefty slugger. With former Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum running the show on the North Side, the likelihood of Fielder suiting up for the Cubs is legitimate. Needless to say, the Cubs are desperate for a power-type hitter such as Fielder if they are to contend for the NL Central next season.
While there’s no doubting how talented many of the Nationals’ top prospects may be, it’s clear that unless management makes a move for a big-time bat in the near future, Washington will continue to dwell in the NL East cellar for years to come. Ranking at or near the bottom half of all NL clubs in many offensive categories last season, the Nationals lacked the offensive firepower necessary to grapple with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves for a division title. If GM Mike Rizzo is able to ink a premium slugger like Fielder to a long-term deal, the Nationals will be instant competitors out East next season and into the future.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have been considered suitors for Fielder for quite some time now, mostly because of their serious need for a slugger in their underachieving lineup. Newly hired GM Jerry Dipoto says he will look for other areas to improve his ballclub this offseason other than courting Fielder. Nevertheless, with first base already occupied by young star Mark Trumbo, signing Fielder to become Los Angeles’ new designated hitter seems like a real possibility at this point.
Buck Showalter and Company showed massive strides of improvement at the beginning of last year. However, their lack of power and inconsistencies at the plate put an end to their ephemeral success. Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Weiters lead a solid Baltimore lineup into next season, but with the evident lack of a home run threat, it’s a foregone conclusion that 2012 will be yet another disappointing campaign for the O’s. If Baltimore has any intention of breaking through the AL East hierarchy in the near future, they’ll need to fetch a slugger like Fielder. They might just do it, too.
The temperature may be dropping, but the rumors keep heating up for the Milwaukee Brewers.
With a number of question marks concerning Ron Roenicke’s crew moving forward, GM Doug Melvin must resolve to fix the most prominent holes concerning his club through free-agency. There have been a number of whispers and inquiries as to who Melvin may be targeting, but nothing is for certain at this stage.
Who are the Brewers’ most admired targets this offseason?
7. Prince Fielder
Speculation aside, the Brewers fully intend on bringing back Prince Fielder in 2012. Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio both remain confident that their club will be contenders with or without slugger. That said, they do remain optimistic about a potential re-signing. Last Tuesday, Attanasio had this to say to reporters:
There are potential free agents but for right now, we want to leave that spot open for Prince.
Last season, the 27-year-old garnered 38 HR and a team-high 120 RBI. He also maintained a .299 BA and drew a league-leading 32 intentional walks. Although clubs have yet to contact him personally, it is expected that Fielder’s high demand will be too much for the Brewers to contend for his services next season.
The Brewers were able to contend last year in large part due to their upgraded pitching, but make no mistake about it — a dynamic lineup propelled Ron Roenicke’s crew to the NLCS.
With December just around the corner, Prince Fielder will only begin to receive hefty offers from desperate teams. Without his presence in Milwaukee’s lineup in 2012, their offensive output would take a serious blow.
To ease the pain, Melvin could be interested in inking Aramis Ramirez to a lucrative deal. Last season, Ramirez, 33, batted .306 with 26 HR and 93 RBI on his way to a .510 SLG. GM Theo Epstein turned down Ramirez’s $16 Million option last month.
5. Jose Reyes
Brewers fans have been raving about the prospect of Reyes potentially joining forces with Ryan Braun and company for quite some time now, but only recently has it become notably prominent.
Last week, ESPN’s own Adam Rubin reported that Melvin acknowledged he had “one phone call” with Reyes’ agent. Melvin also said he has not decided whether or not the two sides would continue discussions.
Regardless, it is expected that Milwaukee will be in on the Reyes sweepstakes this winter. Upgrading at shortstop prior to 2012 is a genuine need for the Brewers — no matter how unlikely a signing will transpire.
4. Frank Francisco
With the declining of Francisco Rodriguez’s hefty 2012 option, expect the Brewers to be lobbying for a power-type setup man to take his place next season.
Truth be told, this winter’s free-agent class isn’t what one would deem extraordinarily talented. There are a number of names worth mentioning, though.
Francisco, 32, is one such reliever that should catch Melvin’s eye. He made 54 appearances with Toronto last season, notching 53 punch-outs in just 50.2 IP.
Veteran shortstops are among the hottest free-agent commodities this winter, and the Brewers are well immersed in nabbing one for 2012. Rollins, a long-time Phillie who is currently at the ripe age of 32, is reportedly looking for somewhere near a five-year deal this winter.
While the Brewers have no business offering that type of contract to an aging glove like that of Rollins, Melvin said he would be willing to offer a hefty one-year deal and then test the market next winter once more.
In 2010, Rollins managed a .268 BA, 16 HR, 63 RBI and notched 30 stolen bases in 38 attempts. His great defensive range would be ideal for Milwaukee in 2012.
2. Yuniesky Betancourt
As haphazard as his 2011 campaign may have been, the Brewers still hold Yuniesky Betancourt in high regard. Could that mutual adoration turn into a new contract?
Melvin turned down the 29-year-old’s $6 Million 2012 option last month, but says he is very open to the idea of bringing him back at the right price.
Betancourt amassed 13 HR and 68 RBI — second most among all NL shortstops last season. His free-swinging mentality led to a .252 BA and .271 OBP, additionally. He certainly isn’t the ideal shortstop for Milwaukee moving forward, but he still remains a candidate this winter.
1. Rafael Furcal
As we’ve already alluded to, the Brewers are in hot pursuit of quality gloves that would solidify a horrendous infield from a season ago.
Veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal is currently among the vast number of players Melvin intends on targeting.
As a trade-deadline upgrade for Tony La Russa last July, Furcal, 34, batted .255 with 7 HR and 29 runs scored in 50 games. His production in the batter’s box wasn’t why St. Louis brought the former speedster in, however. Holding true to a .958 FPCT and a 4.86 RF while turning 36 double plays, Furcal was absolutely critical in the Cardinals’ World Series run. His disciplined experience makes him a sublime free-agency candidate for the Brewers.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.
While the prominent 2012 MLB Free Agent class begins and ends with Albert Pujols, there’s no doubting that former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder is the hottest property up for grabs this winter. Speculation regarding which teams have the “best shot” at signing the youngster have come at no shortage. The Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers have propagated the most noteworthy headlines up to this point.
However, what other teams could be in the mix for the 27-year-old slugger? Here are five teams that could come out of nowhere to nab Fielder this offseason.
New York Mets
Conventional wisdom tells us the Mets should be spending their money elsewhere (Jose Reyes), but you’d be surprised to know they may have a chance at snatching Fielder this winter.
Rumors suggest New York may not be able to afford their speedy shortstop this offseason, which opens up the door for many other free-agent possibilities. With the contracts of Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and possibly even David Wright (via trade) coming off the books this winter, there should be a large chunk of change ready at New York’s disposal — no matter how financially impaired they may be.
What’s more, even Cecil Fielder agrees the Mets have a shot at his son.
The Miami Marlins will be ushering in a whole new direction with the opening of their brand new stadium and team name change next season. They may be on the verge of signing some top-tier talent, as well. Finishing dead last in the NL East last season, the Marlins finished in the bottom-half of all MLB clubs in runs (625), HR (149), RBI (596), OBP (.318) and extra-base hits (453). If there was a team in more need of offensive production in 2011, it was the Fish.
However, with the hiring of longtime White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen last month, and an already talented group of young players headlined by Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Josh Johnson in place, signing Fielder certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels have been considered challengers for Fielder for quite some time, but with the Rangers’ recent World Series-woes, they’ve been a bit overshadowed for the past few weeks.
Truthfully, there may be no better fit for Fielder than in Mike Scioscia’s clubhouse. The club is already one of the better hitting ball-clubs in MLB, and they should have the money for a long-term contract Fielder is seeking. With young Mark Trumbo holding down the fort at first base with great efficiency and Bobby Abreu on the trading block, Fielder should make a smooth transition to designated hitter.
Toronto Blue Jays
While this is hands-down the biggest stretch featured in our list, there’s simply no denying the appeal.
Over the years, the Blue Jays have been more well known to ship away top talent rather than fetch it, which probably makes this signing a bit of a pipe-dream. However, with their offensive juggernaut comprised of Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia, GM Alex Anthropoulos would be wise to relish the opportunity at hand with Fielder now open for signing. Granted, they may not have deep pockets like that of the Nationals and Cubs, but they do have more than enough tempting talent for Fielder to recognize.
St. Louis Cardinals
Up to this point, speculation says Albert Pujols should be able and willing to re-sign with the Cardinals this offseason, even though he’s publicly denied such inquiry. However, what happens if he in fact chooses to leave and sign with a team such as the Cubs? St. Louis’ next-best option would be Fielder, and you can’ count on them pursuing the burly vegetarian.
It seems like a hundred-to-one shot at best, but if the opportunity and need presents itself, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the question for the Cardinals to snatch Fielder this winter.
Keep up to date on the game’s biggest free-agent names this offseason with Sports Illustrated’s MLB Free-Agent Tracker. The link can be found here.