It's not official, but it looks like Eric Gagne is joining the Brewers on a one-year deal. That means the bullpen looks like this, roughly in depth chart order:
That's pretty cool. The downside is that, if Gagne is on a one-year, $10MM deal, the budget is basically gone. Assuming that we non-tender Mench, my salary projection edges up to $75MM with Gagne and Torres. In other words, if we're going to make another move (and you know we will), it probably won't be on the free-agent market. Or, if it is, it'll be accompanied with some kind of salary dump, like trading Capuano for prospects.
The one thing staring us in the face right now is that we've got too much pitching. I know, I know, you can never have too much pitching, but literally, we have more guys who pitch than there is room for on the MLB roster. Not counting Villanueva and Parra, we have six starters. And Villanueva, at least, deserves a spot on the opening day roster, and there may not be one for him.
As I see it, we have three main options to solve this problem. I think that we probably kill two birds (or more) with one stone, trading a pitcher and acquiring a 3B/LF/CF in the same deal. Here are the choices:
- Most likely: trade Capuano (or maybe Bush or Vargas) for a stopgap. It's not a great match, but I'm thinking something like Capuano for Brandon Inge, or some slightly bigger deal involving Joe Crede. This type of deal wouldn't make a huge impact; it would basically give us a starter at that last position and clear up the logjam.
- Next most likely: trade Villanueva for an equally young (and low-service time) position player. One tempting target is Josh Hamilton, who may become available from the Reds. This is the one sort of deal in which I'd be willing to deal Villy -- we'd have to get someone with similar service time.
- Least likely: trade Sheets. The Mariners have been discussed as a destination, and between Jeff Clement (nearly ready C) and outfielders Adam Jones and Wladimir Balentien, they have the ammo to get a deal done. Both of those outfielders are at least plausible center fielders, which means that, if LaPorta becomes ready by Opening Day 2009, that guy slides over to center, LaPorta takes over in left, and Hall (or Weeks or Hardy, I suppose) gets traded.
I haven't decided how I feel about the Gagne signing yet, but it is fun to see a new, promising '08 team take shape, even if all we have in left field right now is LaGrynn.