Dempster, Myers part of Brewers' discussions
GM Melvin talks to pitchers' agent; Dickey talks remain short
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There were no Brewers deals on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but there was movement. General manager Doug Melvin met with the agent who counts right-handed free agents Ryan Dempster and Brett Myers among his clients, and revealed that he'd talked with the Mets about R.A. Dickey.
In each instance, the talks were just talk. Melvin said there was no match with the Mets, and said he had yet to extend any formal offers to free-agent starting pitchers or relievers.
"There may be [some offers], but we may walk out of here without any offers," Melvin said. "I think there are going to be some guys who wait."
The starting pitchers were still waiting Tuesday for Zack Greinke to pick a team and set the market in motion. The relievers are waiting to see if the deals get richer as time goes on.
The Brewers are waiting to make smart choices, given their payroll constraints this winter.
In terms of dollars, Dickey is a bargain at $5 million in 2013, the final season of his contract. He won the National League Cy Young Award last month after going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA for the Mets, but so far has been unable to settle on the terms of a contract extension. So the Mets are fielding offers and asking a high price.
"I just talked to them briefly, but there is nothing to that," said Melvin, who was Rangers GM when that team drafted Dickey in 1996. "We never got into [exchanging names]. It doesn't appear to be a match."
A deal for Dickey would have marked his second reunion with Melvin, who was Rangers GM in 1996 when that team made Dickey its first-round Draft pick and prepared to sign him for $810,000. It was Melvin who had to inform Dickey that doctors had discovered he'd been born without an ulnar collateral ligament, and was thus a medical risk. The offer was reduced to $75,000.
A decade later, they met again.
Dickey was still perfecting his now-famous knuckleball when he signed a Triple-A deal with Milwaukee in 2007, and was this close to pitching for the Brewers on July 28. The team, Melvin said, had summoned Dickey to St. Louis on the morning of a doubleheader and told him to wait at the team hotel across the street from Busch Stadium. If the Brewers needed a fresh arm, Dickey would have been promoted to the Majors for the nightcap.
But the Brewers got six quality innings from Manny Parra in Game 1 that day. They wound up losing on a Francisco Cordero blown save but didn't need Dickey for Game 2, so he returned to Nashville, finished the season and wound up signing a Minor League deal with the Mariners the following year.
It wasn't until 2010 that he broke through for the Mets.
If the cost for an established starter like Dickey proves too high, Melvin may turn to free agency. He said he'd met Tuesday with agent Craig Landis, who represents both Dempster and Myers, but would not reveal anything about the content of that talk, lest Melvin tip his hand to other clubs.
Dempster makes sense because of his career success at Miller Park (2.66 ERA in 26 games, 14 starts), and Myers could be of interest because he has been both a starting pitcher and a reliever in recent seasons.
For Dempster, the sticking point appears to be the length of a deal. Landis said this week that Dempster wants three years, and Melvin and the Brewers are reluctant to go past two.
If the prices remain too rich, the Brewers might fill their rotation vacancies with in-house options, a notion manager Ron Roenicke discussed earlier Tuesday and Melvin reiterated.
"There's a lot of teams last year that went with their own pitching, and we know the risk of that a little bit," Melvin said. "But if you sit and you're looking at guys with 4.50 and 5.00 ERAs, you might as well go with your own young guys, you know? We've done it in the past and we've found some guys who were a little bit better than we thought. The risk is the 162-game schedule."
Other tidbits from Tuesday:
Melvin said the Brewers are looking at shortstops to back up 22-year-old starter Jean Segura and retain some interest in Alex Gonzalez, though Gonzalez is seeking a starting role. He was Milwaukee's Opening Day shortstop last season before tearing a ligament in his knee.
Another option is Detroit's Ramon Santiago, who is available in a trade. But he earns $2.1 million in 2013 and would cost the Brewers a player. Melvin may be more inclined to find a backup infielder in free agency or stick with incumbent Jeff Bianchi.
The Brewers have talked about left-handers John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny, who were non-tendered by the Nationals last week, but have yet to contact those players' agents. Lannan could be either a starter or a reliever, Melvin said. He has also reportedly drawn interest from the Mets and Pirates.
The Brewers weren't interested in Dan Haren before the right-hander agreed to a $13 million, one-year contract with the Nationals on Tuesday, pending a physical. Haren's medical history made him too risky for Milwaukee.