Friday's interesting Milwaukee-Minnesota Midwest regional trade was nice to see. Not only were old divisional rivals coming together for a rare trade that benefits both teams, but it leaves the Brewers with some interesting options.
First, by swapping Hardy for Gomez, the Brewers saved approximately $4.2 million in 2010 salary as Gomez makes roughly $400,000 to Hardy's slated $4.6 million. Next, they picked up an extra year of service time for Gomez, who won't be a free agent for three years to Hardy's two.
If you read the recent Emett Prosser OnMilwaukee article, by also not re-signing old center fielder Mike Cameron, the Brewers will save an additional $10 million. Add this all up and the Brewers suddenly have about $14.5 million to work with.
Prosser notes this trade is just the beginning for the Brewers, who have made it no secret they want to add some pitching (don't we all?). While his article, provided, doesn't offer any clues, at least it confirms what position(s) the club will be targeting.
The only problem is, will anyone care enough to take their money?
Last winter, I got all excited about how the crafty Brewers were able to spin the giant loss of rent-a-player CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets into Braden Looper and Trevor Hoffman, essentially. Hoffman worked out, having solidified a long standing nag in the bullpen at closer. Better yet, he's already signed for 2010 and possibly beyond with the 2011 mutual option. Good job there, Milwaukee!
However, I also got excited when they signed Jeff Suppan to that massive ridiculous contract that doesn't come off the books until next year.
By getting rid of Jason Kendall ($5 million), Felipe Lopez ($3.5 million), and Corey Patterson ($800,000) as On Milwaukee reporter Drew Olsen suggests, the Brewers could have an additional $9.3 million to spend. That would give them approximately $23.8 million to spend on two to three free agent pitchers. (14.5+9.3=23.8)
Okay, seriously, they won't get the Texas native, but neither will the small-market Brewers. My guess is he goes to the usual suspects: the Dodgers, Angels, or Mets, but baseball despeately needs a stud like Lackey to go to one of their smaller clubs to make them relevant again.
Is this the year the Brewers finally sign the Wisconsin native and free agent to be, Jarrod Washburn? While I'd adivse against it, GM Melvin will probably make the obligatory phone call.
Who could the free-agent pitchers Doug Melvin could be targeting? What could their rotation look like?
Looper if his $6.5 million option is picked up for the 14-7 pitcher last year. One of two pitchers to have double-digit wins for the club while setting a career high
FA Randy Wolf? 2 years $12 million?
FA Carl Pavano 2 years, $10 million?
I think Melvin's going to have a tougher time attracting free agent pitchers to come to a small town in Milwaukee, especially when they all want "AJ Burnett money" like Lackey, but Lackey would be his best bet, his safest bet. Just don't look for it to happen anytime soon. The Angels consider themselves out of it. What does that tell you?
One thing the Brewers do have going for them is a relatively easy division, with only St. Louis and Chicago as the only locks to contend. By April 2, the Pirates will begin their annual September call-ups, as newly acquired Akinori Iwamaura will be dealt in mid-June for, you guessed it, prospects. The Reds never do anything, and the Astros are a mess with a new manager coming in. They'll "contend" for the first half of the season, but it will be fool's gold in the end, just like this past year.