Ladies and gentleman of Milwaukee Brewers nation – welcome to speculation season.
Baseball’s free agency and off-season period are unlike any other, with players being dealt and dealing with team management in closed door plutocratic struggles littered with red herrings and off-handed comments.
One such off-handed comment has put Milwaukee General Manager Doug Melvin and former staff ace Zack Greinke right in the thick of things.
It appears the two have had an unspecified number of conversations, as learned through Adam McCalvy, John Heyman and other sources. Melvin said that they just “talk baseball” but no one’s honestly biting on that line. While I have little doubts that Greinke and Melvin can be friends, such as it is, I highly doubt the general manager of a Major League Baseball club and one of the most coveted pitchers in a generation would only touch on how they think the standings would shake out in 2013.
I’m no agent, nor am I as well-versed in financial dealings as these two men, but that seems like a simple enough to ruse to get your foot in the door to start talking dollars and cents.
I won’t go so far as to speculate if, in fact, the two sides are discussing a return, but I suppose it doesn’t matter if I do or not. It’s in the universe now. The fact that he brought up a conversation then summarily downplayed it says (to me, at least) that this team is interested and, however peripherally, involved in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes.
I can’t say I blame them. The Brewers need a starting pitcher – Greinke was a beast of one for Milwaukee. The Brewers take stock in team chemistry – Greinke has it in spades with this team. The Brewers want to go after a proven veteran – how much more would Greinke need to prove? Like, ever?
The only thing they likely don’t agree on right now is the price tag. After passing on a reported extension over $100 million mid-season to test open waters, it is unlikely that a repeat of that offer will do the trick. However, Melvin has made mention of ‘moving pieces around’ to be able to go for a bigger name – something like not making qualifying offers or arbitration for free agents certainly fits into that budgetary scenario. The whole situation has Melvin speaking out of both sides of his mouth, something that likely wouldn’t happen if the Brewers were indeed sitting this one out.
I don’t know a lot about back-room dealings in baseball, but I know when someone’s trying to pull wool over my eyes. Melvin is most certainly downplaying this situation to see what the market is going to do for Greinke. As a smaller market team, putting out the first offer often means getting out-matched and out-priced early. But Milwaukee does have a little wiggle room, and both Melvin and Brewers Principal Owner Mark Attanasio have stated that there are cases where the team might go for broke’ on a talented free agent.
Certainly Zack Greinke qualifies, right?
Again, I don’t wish to fan too many flames on this one. It’s very early in the process and the large part of this discussion – like that of Josh Hamilton – could be nothing more than the whimsical musings of hot stove columnists with deadlines to fill and not enough real information to fill them with. We are a solid month away from Winter Meetings and there are plenty of hats in the ring for Greinke.
Only time will tell when – and if – Milwaukee throws theirs in as well.