Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while eating crackers.

We're 31 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale, and this morning we're also celebrating day one of the Norichika Aoki Era. The Brewers waited until the last minute to do so but signed Aoki to a two year deal with a club option for 2014 yesterday (FanShot). Terms of the deal are still undisclosed, but it's worth noting that Aoki probably would have made over $4 million in Japan this season. Here's a quick roundup of notes on the transaction:

Meanwhile, that wasn't yesterday's only transaction. The team also avoided arbitration by signing one year deals with Francisco Rodriguez ($8 million) and Kameron Loe ($2.175 million) (FanShot). Both deals are significantly less expensive than expected. If nothing else, K-Rod's lower-than-expected salary could make him easier to trade if the Brewers decide to do so: Jay Jaffe noted that there's always a market for a "proven closer" around the trade deadline.

Adam McCalvy passed along these notes on $625,000 in possible incentives in Rodriguez's deal:

Trigger Amount
15 games finished $125,000
20 games finished $125,000
25 games finished $125,000
30 games finished $250,000

I'm surprised and a little concerned that all of these incentives are for games finished, and none are for actual appearances. Rodriguez now has another financial incentive to make his non-closer status an issue.

With K-Rod and Loe's deals done, the Brewers have just two arbitration-eligible players remaining and they traded proposals with the team yesterday (FanShot):

Player Team Offer Player Offer Difference
Shaun Marcum $6.75 million $8.7 million $1.95 million
Jose Veras $2 million $2.375 million $375,000

Yesterday we mentioned that Craig Counsell had retired and accepted a position in the Brewer front office. We now know that he'll be serving as a special assistant to Doug Melvin, and the team held a press conference to announce the move yesterday afternoon. John Steinmiller has a slide show from the event, where Counsell said he's definitely done playing and turned down an offer to serve as the Cubs' first base coach earlier this winter. We also have some video from the press conference.

Doug Melvin had a very busy day yesterday but it didn't end there: After spending the day finalizing moves and making announcements he came up to Appleton and was a featured guest at the Red Smith Banquet last night. The Appleton Post Crescent has the story.

In the minors:

  • Francisco Rodriguez celebrated his new contract by striking out the side in his lone inning of work for La Guaira last night, but it wasn't enough as they lost 5-2 to Aragua in the Venezuelan playoffs. You can read about that and more in today's Winter League Notes.
  • As of this writing Taylor Jungmann has a 15 vote lead on Tyler Thornburg in the voting for the #2 spot in our BCB Community Prospect Rankings. You have until 1 pm today to vote, and the race for the #3 spot will open at 2.

This is kind of like a power ranking, I guess: Minor League Baseball Prospects lists Zach Braddock as basebal's 85th best player age 25 or younger. Braddock was the youngest Brewer in 2011.

Around baseball:

Astros: Avoided arbitration with pitcher J.A. Happ (one year, $2.35 million), signed 1B/DH Jack Cust to a one year deal with a club option for 2013 and named former Rockies minor league coach Craig Bjornson their new bullpen coach.
Blue Jays: Avoided arbitration with second baseman Kelly Johnson ($6.3 million), pitcher Carlos Villanueva ($2.2 million) and outfielder Ben Francisco ($1.5 million) and released third baseman Mark Teahen.
Braves: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Michael Bourn ($6.45 million) and pitcher Jair Jurrjens ($5.5 million) and signed reliever Peter Moylan to a minor league deal.
Cardinals: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan (one year, $2.5 million).
Cubs: Avoided arbitration with catcher Geovany Soto ($4.3 million), pitchers Randy Wells ($2.705 million) and Chris Volstad ($2.655 million), third baseman Ian Steward ($2.237 million) and infielders Jeff Baker ($1.375 million) and Blake DeWitt ($1.1 million).
Dodgers: Avoided arbitration with first baseman James Loney (one year, $6.4 million).
Giants: Avoided arbitration with third baseman Pablo Sandoval with a three year, $17 million deal.
Indians
: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo ($4.9 million), pitchers Chris Perez ($4.5 million), Justin Masterson ($3.85 million) and Joe Smith ($1.75 million) and infielder Jack Hannahan ($1.35 million).
Mariners: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitchers Brandon League ($5 million), Jason Vargas ($4.85 million) and Shawn Kelley ($600,000).
Marlins: Avoided arbitration with reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo ($6 million).
Mets: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitcher Mike Pelfrey ($5.68 million), outfielder Andres Torres ($2.7 million) and relievers Ramon Ramirez ($2.65 million) and Manny Acosta ($875,000).
Nationals: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitchers Tom Gorzelanny ($2.7 million), Jordan Zimmermann ($2.3 million) and Tyler Clippard ($1.65 million).
Orioles: Signed pitcher Armando Galarraga to a minor league deal.
Padres: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for outfielder Carlos Quentin ($7.025 million), third baseman Chase Headley ($3.475 million), pitchers Tim Stauffer ($3.2 million), Luke Gregerson ($1.55 million), Edinson Volquez ($2.2375 million) and Joe Thatcher ($700,000), catchers John Baker ($750,000) and Nick Hundley ($2 million) and outfielder Will Venable ($1.475 million).
Phillies: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitcher Cole Hamels ($15 million) and infielder Wilson Valdez ($900,000).
Pirates: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitchers Jeff Karstens ($3.1 million) and Evan Meek ($875,000).
Rangers: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for reliever Mike Adams ($4.4 million), outfielder David Murphy ($3.625 million) and pitchers Matt Harrison ($2.95 million) and Mark Lowe ($1.7 million).
Rays: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for outfielder B.J. Upton ($7 million) and pitchers David Price ($4.35 million) and Burke Badenhop ($1.075 million).
Red Sox: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (one year, $8.05 million).
Royals: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitchers Jonathan Sanchez ($5.6 million), Luke Hochevar ($3.51 million) and Felipe Paulino ($1.9 million).
Tigers: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for outfielder Delmon Young ($6.75 million), pitcher Max Scherzer ($3.75 million) and infielder Don Kelly ($900,000). Also, catcher/DH Victor Martinez may miss the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL.
Twins: Avoided arbitration with one year deals for pitchers Francisco Liriano ($5.5 million) and Glen Perkins ($1.55 million).

In former Brewers:

  • NPB Tracker has Bill Hall on a list of six MLB free agents that could be a fit in Japan.
  • Todd Coffey is also still a free agent, and The Nats Blog wonders if he's sprinted to the mound in Washington for the last time.

This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History remembers the end of reliever Pete Ladd's Brewer career. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the 27th anniversary of a four team trade between the Brewers, Rangers, Mets and Royals that brought pitchers Danny Darwin and Tim Leary to Milwaukee.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pretend to be David.

Drink up.

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