We've lost out on Juan Pierre (phew!) and Dave Roberts (thank you!), and now it looks like Kenny Lofton is also going to sign elsewhere. He's been discussed quite a bit as a "cheap" option to the higher-priced CFs out there, and while he may no longer be a plus defender, he is a decent OBP guy and one who probably wouldn't command a long-term deal.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are about to sign Lofton to a one-year deal. This makes it that much more likely that, come February, Bill Hall will be the Brewers center fielder. Lofton looks like the last available CF on the market (unless you count somebody like Shannon Stewart, and if you count Shannon Stewart as a potential everyday center fielder, you ought to find another website where your brand of idiocy is welcome), so that leaves only the trade market to displace Billy.
And the trade market isn't so hot, unless the Brewers want to get in the Rocco Baldelli or Vernon Wells bidding (which isn't the worst idea in the world--I just don't know what we have to offer the Rays that isn't named Gallardo). Given that other teams have considered Brady Clark as an option to play CF for them, it would appear there aren't a lot of great options out there.
Since I've linked you to the handy Free Agent Tracker, it's a good time to take a look and think about who we should bring in on the honorary Rick Helling contract--the 6th/7th starter who gets a MLB deal for $800k. Helling, of course, is still an option, but since Ned pitched him about two innings in the last six weeks of the year, I'm guessing he won't be back.
Other options (I'm not being too picky for inclusion on this list) include:
- Jamey Wright
- Steve Trachsel
- John Thomson (he's better than that and will get more cash, but a health risk)
- Mark Redman (he'll get more cash too, but someone has to show interest first)
- Chan Ho Park
- Russ Ortiz (please no!)
- Ramon Ortiz
- Brian Moehler
- Brooks Kieschnick
- Jason Johnson (ditto Redman, only less so)
- Shawn Estes (The dude's only 33, but he had Tommy John surgery in June. Maybe we'll consider him next year.)
- Bruce Chen
- Tony Armas
Another wildcard is Carl Pavano. The Yankees, with Andy Pettitte in the fold and Kei Igawa on the way, could move him, and will likely expect to pay a whole lot of his salary. The Cardinals are known to be interested and the Rockies have been linked with him recently as well. I don't see the Brewers getting in on this, but if the Yankees ate enough salary so that Pavano got down in the John Thomson salary range, it would be a tempting risk to take. After all, this guy is only a couple of years removed from a Cy Young-caliber season.