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Brewers’ goals at Winter Meetings

As Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin and staff head to Indianapolis, they are looking to accomplish at least some of these goals to improve the 2010 parent club, as well as the farm system:

1. Add a starting pitcher via trade: This may be very difficult to accomplish, as almost every club is trying to add quality starting pitcher. Melvin has stated that he’d like to add 2 new starting pitchers this year–the shopping list from current teams has been rather limited thus far, with Kevin Millwood of Texas being the only name I’ve heard of recently. But other names are bound to surface this week.

2. Add a starting pitcher via free agency: Melvin would like to get at least one free agent pitcher signed this week. Candidates mentioned so far include John Lackey, Carl Pavano, and Jerrod Washburn. Their agents will be making the rounds, trying to speed up negotiations and play off one GM against another. A Lackey signing would likely set off a series of other free agent signings, including one or two by the Brewers.

3. Find out the market value for some expendable players. In order to accomplish the first objective, the Brewers are going to need to gauge the interest in some players that are expendable, e.g. “trade bait.” These include:

  • 3B Mat Gamel or Casey McGehee–with McGehee’s emergence last year at 3B, Melvin now has two third basemen that have shown promise and have potential upside. Melvin would love to keep both…but he knows that these are his two most valuable players right now, and will part with one for a #3 or #4 starting pitcher that is affordable and can be under the Brewers’ control for two or more seasons.
  • OF Corey Hart–Melvin needs to see if Hart could draw a #3 or #4 starter he likes…failing that, Melvin will keep the right-fielder due to lack of better options…unless the Angels want to pay the Crew for taking Gary Matthews, Jr. off their roster (and payroll). Melvin knows that Hart is a fan favorite…plus he may be able to return to his All-Star form.
  • C Mike Rivera or Angel Salome–With the signing of catcher Gregg Zaun to a 1-2 year deal, plus the emergence of Jonathan Lucroy and the pick-up of catcher George Kottaras off of waivers, the Brewers find themselves with a catcher or two to spare. Salome would likely draw the most interest–and is the one the Brewers are most likely to want to trade–but that would leave the Brewers with just one prospect at the top of the pipeline. Still, a decent AA or AAA pitcher with promise would probably draw Melvin’s interest.
  • 2B Hernan Iribarren–when Melvin added Adam Heether to the 40-man, and passed on offering arbitration to Felipe Lopez, he committed to Rickie Weeks at second base…pretty much ensuring that Hernan Iribarren doesn’t play a prominent role in the Brewers’ future. Iribarren might be worth a low-A pitcher to feed the pipeline.
  • SP Dave Bush–a long shot, but possible if he could net a AA arm with some potential. This would require the Brewers to add a 3rd starter for 2010, so it is not likely.

These are the most likely candidates, in addition to some prospects further down the organizational ladder. Sure, Melvin would like to dump Jeff Suppan and his salary, but unless the Angels get really desperate to get rid of Gary Matthews, Jr., it is not likely.

This coming week will be interesting!

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