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Brewers target Rollins, Ramirez for offers

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Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
December 7, 2011
— As of Tuesday evening, Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin had no offers on the table to any free agent.

Before the winter meetings adjourn Thursday, that should change.


“Probably, yes,” said Melvin.


The Brewers likely will make offers to both shortstop Jimmy Rollins and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, perhaps one before the other. They can’t afford to sign both but they would like to have one or the other.


Without mentioning either player by name, Melvin admitted he will hedge his bets at both positions.


“There are three or four scenarios that we’re thinking about,” said Melvin. “That stuff all comes into the thinking. Again, you don’t know until you know what the actual dollars are with players (whether a deal is doable).


“That’s the way the game is played. I’d like to not say too much when we’re getting into the level (of discussions) we’re at right now. I’ll leave that up to the agents. I don’t expect anything to happen here.”


The Brewers have to sign a shortstop, and Rollins is easily the best available player at that position. Philadelphia has tried to re-sign him but the sides have butted heads over length of contract. Rollins, 33, wants a five-year deal and the Phillies don’t want to go beyond three years.


The Brewers wouldn’t go five years, either, so the odds are better that the Phillies will work out something to keep Rollins. If so, the Brewers will go after a less-expensive shortstop, perhaps re-signing Yuniesky Betancourt.


If that scenario plays out, the Brewers could go harder after Ramirez, 33, who will settle for a three-year deal but wants a higher annual salary than Rollins. Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said he considers the Brewers “a favorite” to sign his client.


Kinzer said the Brewers are one of three teams showing “serious” interest in Ramirez. The others are believed to be the Los Angeles Angels and the Phillies, who also are doing the Rollins/Ramirez balancing act.


Kinzer said Ramirez has reciprocal interest in playing for the Brewers, in part because Milwaukee is close to Chicago, where the veteran slugger established his home while playing for the Cubs.


“He likes that team,” said Kinzer. “He wants to go to a team that has pitching and gives him a chance to win a ring. He thinks the Brewers can do that.”


Ramirez batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 149 games for the Cubs last year. His signing would provide a new power hitter to bat cleanup with the expected loss of first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency.


Melvin said he only has so many dollars to spend on free agents, which is why the Brewers have no chance of retaining Fielder. Melvin said he doesn’t plan to meet with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, before the meetings end.


“Our payroll has gotten higher with the success of the team,” said Melvin. “We have holes to fill. We’ve tried to do it (partially) with guys from within the system.


“You’ve got to keep in mind what your club is going to look like two, three years down the road. That’s the danger teams get into with this free-agency thing.


“We’re trying to be disciplined enough to know that if you do something, it’s not about winning headlines for two days and being a bad ballclub for three years and trying to get rid of players. I don’t think we have to be challenged to make trades or go sign free agents. We’ve done that.”



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