The Winter Meetings were this week and the Brewers focus was on Corey Hart.
This offseason, the Brewers primary choice at first base had been to re-sign Corey Hart. Progress here had been slow as Hart worked to get medically cleared. Hart obtained that clearance last week, and the talk picked up quickly as the Winter Meetings began. The Brewers pushed hard to try to get Hart back, but there was some indecision on Hart's part. As time passed, the Brewers had to prepare other options, and reports came out that the Brewers were only going to wait until the end of the Winter Meetings for Hart's decision. With other options starting to get claimed, the Brewers didn't have much more time to wait.
The Brewers didn't have to wait until the end of the meetings for Hart's decision, though. The decision came out on Wednesday, and it wasn't what the Brewers were hoping for. Corey Hart had decided to sign with the Mariners over the Brewers. Even though Corey Hart was willing to take a discount to stay in Milwaukee, reports came out that the Mariners offer was nearly double of what the Brewers offered. In that circumstance, it would be hard for Hart to overlook that difference, and you can't blame Hart for taking the bigger offer.
The Brewers were also looking at other options for first base.
While the Brewers were talking to Hart, they were also looking at other possibilities to fill the first base position. A name that had come up before the week and kept coming up during the week was Ike Davis of the Mets. Reports came out that the Brewers were talking to the Mets to try to work out a trade. However, the Mets asking price (by reports, a deal would need to include Tyler Thornburg) were too high, and at least once the talks were reported as off. However, there are still reports coming out as of Friday that the Brewers and Mets are still talking.
Beyond Davis, a few other names came up in trade talks. Brett Pill of the Giants was mentioned in one rumor, though that one didn't go anywhere. Logan Morrison of the Marlins was also mentioned, and that rumor appeared to be gaining some steam. However, that one ended up being taken away as well when the Marlins traded Morrison to the Mariners. Free agency also looked more attractive and the Brewers started pursuing free agent James Loney. Once again, this option got taken away when Loney re-signed with the Rays. Even the possibility of other former Brewers started to disappear with Mat Gamel signing with the Braves on a minor-league deal.
Options are quickly disappearing this offseason, and the Brewers will need to find something or they will be in the same position they were in last season. Of course, they also need to be careful to avoid desperation, since that can lead to poor decisions (a.k.a. Yuniesky Betancourt).
A few other things did happen during the Winter Meetings.
While the first baseman search highlighted the Winter Meetings for the Brewers, it wasn't all that they looked at. A few other stories came up as the week progressed. The first story was about Tom Gorzelanny, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason. This news came as a bit of a surprise, and Gorzelanny is not expected to be ready to pitch until mid-March. That means he will llkely start the 2014 season on the DL. It's not the worst news, and definitely better to happen in the offseason, but it's still a bit of a surprise hit.
Even before the Gorzelanny injury, the Brewers were still looking at filling a spot or two in the bullpen for 2014. One name came up during their search, and it was a bit of a surprise: former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. For now, it appears to only be a report of interest. The Brewers main focus last week was on the first base situation so talks here didn't go very far, though they could still develop.
Talk still continues on if the Brewers should give up 2014 and focus on rebuilding, but for what it's worth, the moves the Brewers have made (or haven't made) don't show an attitude of surrender. This was reinforced more earlier this week, when Doug Melvin confirmed that he's not looking to trade Aramis Ramirez, citing the lack of depth at third base as a reason. For better or worse, the Brewers appear to be heading into 2014 with the intention of competing, though there is always the trade deadline for trading players if needed.
The final action from the Winter Meetings came on Thursday, when the Rule 5 draft was held. The Brewers did make a selection in the draft, though it was an odd one: Wei-Chang Wang from the Pirates. Wang has not pitched above rookie ball yet, so his selection is very odd considering that the Brewers would have to keep him on the active roster through the 2014 season to retain him. It's too early to see what the Brewers are thinking here, so we will have to wait and see on this move.
Other notes from the past week
- In the FanPosts, nullacct continued his Face of the Franchise series with a look at 1989 and that season's face of the franchise, Glenn Braggs.
- The final installment of the best Wisconsin born players came out on Friday, and it looked at one of the most familiar names for Wisconsin baseball fans: Harvey Kuenn.
- In winter baseball, morinek0 recapped Brewer stats from the week of 12/1 to 12/7.
Reviewing the Brew Crew Blasts Series
The Collection of Mugs
Test Your Knowledge