Brewers ship Hall to Mariners
The Milwaukee Brewers traded slumping third baseman Bill Hall to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday for minor league pitcher Ruben Flores.
Hall hit 35 home runs in 2006 and was rewarded with a $24 million, four-year contract. But he was hitting only .201 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 76 games when the Brewers designated him for assignment last week.
Hall is expected to join the Mariners today in Detroit. Seattle is on the fringe of the AL wild-card race, and starting third baseman Adrian Beltre is on the disabled list.
The Brewers are expected to pay a large portion of the money that remains on Hall’s deal—more than $2 million this year, $8.4 million next year and a $9.25 million club option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout.
“We saved some money here,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said, without confirming an exact figure.
“Obviously, when you enter into a long-term deal with a player, you hope it has a much different ending than this one has. But I think that given his ongoing struggles in Milwaukee, this gives him a fresh start and us some limited financial flexibility next year compared to what we did have, and certainly the year after on the buyout of the option, so maybe we can use those resources to address a more important need at the moment,” he said.
Flores, 25, was 3-2 with 18 saves and a 4.39 ERA in 44 relief appearances combined between Class A Clinton and Class A High Desert. He limited opponents to a .225 batting average, while walking 35 and striking out 61 in 533 innings. He was Seattle’s 12th-round Draft choice in 2003.
“He’s got a power arm,” Ash said. “Not to dismiss his ability, but this is more about trying to secure financial relief than it is about acquiring personnel.
“Given (Hall’s) ongoing struggles in Milwaukee, this gives him a fresh start, and it gives us some limited financial flexibility for next year compared to what we did owe him, and certainly for the year after in terms of the buyout of the option. Maybe we can utilize those resources to address a more important need at the moment.”
Had the Brewers not been able to trade Hall before Friday, they would have had to release him and eat the approximately $10.5 million left on his four-year, $24 million contract.
SI.com reported that the Brewers agreed to pay the remainder of Hall’s $6.8 million salary this season, plus as much as $7.15 million of the $8.4 million Hall is owed in 2010. The contract also includes a $9.25 million club option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout.
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash would not address the particulars but conceded that the Brewers got “limited” relief. If the SI.com report was correct, the Brewers would save about $1.75 million ($1.25 million of Hall’s 2010 salary, plus the option buyout).
Two NL teams were rumored to have interest: Cincinnati and San Francisco. In all the scenarios, Milwaukee would have received a Minor League player in return, Ash said, dousing speculation that the Reds might have tried to unload an equally bulky contract by dealing pitchers Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo.
Hall, a 1998 draft pick, had been the longest-tenured player in Milwaukee’s organization. Zduriencik, was Milwaukee’s amateur scouting director until last year, but did not draft Hall, needed a third baseman to replace disabled third baseman Beltre.
“It’s certainly not the way you would want it to work out,” Ash said. “But when you come to the realization after a period of time that it’s not going to work out the way you wanted it, I think you’re motivated and mandated to make the best deal possible, both for the player” and the team.
Flores surrendered 15 runs in his first 103 innings for the High Desert Mavericks, a former Milwaukee affiliate
“He has been in (Seattle’s) organization for a number of years but missed two seasons with significant injuries,” Ash said. “He’s got a power arm, and he’s starting to come on. We’ve seen him a couple of times this year.
“Again, this is not to dismiss Flores’ abilities, but this is more of trying to secure financial relief than it is about acquiring personnel.”