GM Melvin: Brewers likely to add pitching, but not ‘notable’ starter
MILWAUKEE — When the Milwaukee Brewers traded Yovani Gallardo to Texas, rumors immediately began swirling as to if the move was a precursor to either another trade or a free-agent signing.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin quickly made it clear nothing major was on the horizon, as the club is ready to commit to young right-hander Jimmy Nelson as its fifth starter.
During the Brewers On Deck event at the Wisconsin Center on Sunday, Melvin reiterated that he has no plans to add a top starting pitcher.
"I don’t think we have room for a notable starting pitcher," Melvin said. "We already have five starting pitchers. We’d like to add a pitcher that could be a spot starter if need be, but if we’re going to add a notable starting pitcher, we probably wouldn’t have traded Gallardo. There are probably only one or two guys out there."
Milwaukee announced the signing of Matt Garza at its annual fan fest last season, while Kyle Lohse wasn’t signed until days before the 2013 season.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said he’d be very surprised if Melvin doesn’t make an additional signing prior to the start of spring training, but it is unlikely to be James Shields.
"Sometime there’s a player and you don’t know who he is or where he’s at," Melvin said. "There’s always one of those players who will end up on your club and help your club at some point during the year.
"Last year it was Zach Duke. In 2011, it was Nyjer Morgan. Gabe Kapler in 2007. Guys like that . . . I don’t know who it is yet. I don’t think it’s a big name person."
There is definitely a fair amount of risk in committing to an unproven commodity like Nelson over a pitcher with Gallardo’s track record. By using their starting pitching depth to fill a need at first base, the Brewers are left with just five starters with major-league experience.
Melvin is looking to add a swingman-type pitcher as insurance in case of injury, but the decision to trade Gallardo leaves Milwaukee vulnerable if a starter gets hurt or doesn’t perform.
"There’s a huge amount of risk trading a guy who’s completely professional, who’s taken the ball in any number of big games for us, was our opening-day starter and gives you 200 innings," Attanasio said. "I could go on and on about how terrific Yovani Gallardo was for our team and the city.
"But in the nature of the sport, we need to do that. One hundred million dollars is a nice number, but to fill out that roster you have to continue developing young players and that means giving Jimmy Nelson a chance and taking a risk with Corey Knebel and some of the other young players that we’ve brought on."
While Melvin may not be looking to sign or trade for a frontline starting pitcher, the Brewers still are actively exploring the possibility of adding to the backend of their bullpen.
Francisco Rodriguez remains unsigned, while Rafael Soriano and Casey Janssen are free agents with closing experience.
"I don’t know who it’s going to be at this point," Melvin said. "We’re having some conversations with a few people. There’s a chance of possibly adding a reliever."
Melvin also denied a recent report that said the Brewers were "in serious discussions" to acquire closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Papelbon is owed $13 million next season with a $13 million vesting option for 2016 if he finishes 48 games in 2015. His contract also has a limited no-trade clause that includes Milwaukee.
The Brewers currently have Jonathan Broxton under contract for 2015 at $9 million, making it hard to believe they would trade for Papelbon unless the Phillies picked up a significant chunk of his salary.
"That changes day by day," Melvin said. "Sometimes you think there’s nothing happening and sometimes you get a phone call, but I haven’t gotten any phone calls lately."
Worthwhile trip: Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy recently traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the State of the Union address as a guest of Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.
"It was cool," Lucroy said. "I got to meet a lot of people, a lot of the senators. But I also got to meet some wounded vets up there in the box I was sitting in. That was really cool. It was fun. I met some really cool people."
While he enjoyed the experience, Lucroy realized he has no interest in ever getting involved with politics.
"I saw a whole different world — one I for sure don’t want to be a part of," Lucroy said "No politics; I’m too honest, man. I’m good, I’ll stick to baseball because it’s the only think I know how to do anyways."