Brewers decline Looper option: how will they build rotation?

The Milwaukee Brewers were smart to decline starting pitcher Braden Looper’s $6.5 million mutual option, freeing up a significant amount of money to plug various holes.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers

Looper led baseball in home runs, checking in at 194.2 innings of a 5.22 ERA. I don’t think serving up all those home runs are sustainable, so it’s likely he returns to a mid-4.50s ERA next year. Is that good enough to bring him back to Milwaukee?

After arbitration raises, the Brewers are looking at around a $65 million range payroll, leaving Doug Melvin $15 million to reach the payroll level of 2009. Assuming that the club is looking to save money (who isn’t these days?), let’s assume a $75 million payroll. That leaves around $10 million for a starting catcher, a bench and starting pitchers. (If the Looper option had been exercised, we’re looking at $4 million instead… what a difference a simple declined option makes.)

The Brewers have the option of bringing in a cheap catcher or promoting from within, so let’s set aside $3 million for a catcher and various sundries. Let’s see what we can do with $7 million to the rotation.

Right now, the Brewers have Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Manny Parra and Chris Narveson in their rotation. Talk about underwhelming. The Brew Crew needs a No. 2 and 3 if they hope to make the playoffs. While it’s probably not feasible to do just that, let’s give it a shot.

Wild idea: Mat Gamel to the Detroit Tigers for Edwin Jackson.

If the Brewers are committed to Casey McGehee at third base, doesn’t it make sense to trade Gamel? Jackson’s first half was a veritable mirage, but he can settle in just fine as a No. 3 starter — especially on this team. Jackson could jump over 200 innings pitched and provide you with Braden Looper-esque numbers while doing so. Jackson will likely command about $4 million in arbitration, which is why the struggling Tigers are looking to move him. The Brewers would take him on and have a pitcher locked up through 2011.

The only negative here is that losing six years of Gamel, who could turn into a solid third baseman, doesn’t seem worth Jackson alone in this environment. If the Tigers chip in $1 million towards Jackson’s salary and also ship Clete Thomas, that could work. The Brewers need a backup outfielder, and Thomas would fit the bill.

I’m still not entirely sure this deal is feasible, but let’s press on regardless. The Brewers rotation now looks like: Yovani Gallardo, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Dave Bush. Still need one more dude, with $4 million to go.

The remaining money is easily available to a pitcher that will sign a one-year deal, or a multiyear deal with a low base salary in 2009 that has escalators with a future uptick in salary that can be afforded thanks to Jeff Suppan and his $12.5 million salary entering free agency after the year.

A high-level name the Brewers could target is Rich Harden. Other (more feasible names) include Jon Garland, Brett Myers, Erik Bedard, Vicente Padilla, Jarrod Washburn… and yes, Looper. One of these names will certainly slide into the Brewers’ payroll range. Let’s assume Washburn at a slight hometown discount. The rotation is now Gallardo, Jackson, Washburn, Suppan, Parra.

May not be world-beating, but certainly enough to inject the team into the playoff discussion.

Unhappy with my Brewers rotation solution? Leave your own ideas in the comments!

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13 years ago

Gamel for Edwin Jackson? Really? I appreciate the effort, but that is Omar Minaya/Dayton More bat turd crazy.

Evan Brunell
13 years ago

For one, I believe I hedged my bets, saying I was unsure if it was feasible. For two, I’ve heard that deal messed about a lot.

For three, I would appreciate it if you would leave a reason WHY instead of just saying it’s a lousy trade.

13 years ago

Sorry for the snark.

Mat Gamel has his shortcomings. He needs to be moved to first, and he strikes out a lot. That being said, unless he’s as much of a butcher at 1B than he is at 3B, he should probably be an average 1B, but he has the potential to go off. Granted, there’s a 400 vegan playing first right now that’s pretty good, but Gamel can fetch a better return than Jackson.

Jackson is mediocre. His 2009 campaign looks good on paper, but he regressed to the mean over the 2nd half. Maybe it was b/c he was tipping his slider, or whatever. I think he is what he is. And he’s not getting any cheaper.

6 years of Gamel is more valuable than couple hundred innings of wishy-washy E-Jax. He was traded for Matt Joyce for crying loud, by one of the smarter teams in all of baseball.

Jim Gagne
13 years ago

I would love to see Jackson on the Brewers, but Gamel isn’t the man the Tigers would want. They are committed to Inge at third, and he certainly won’t be displacing Cabrera at 1st. The Brewers best bet was to send Hardy in a package for Jackson. The Tigers do want a new SS. Too late now.

13 years ago

The funny thing about these potential types of deals (Gamel for Edwin Jackson)is people sometimes treat them like their fantasy teams.

You can’t get something for nothing like many fantasy people like to think.

Firpo says Jackson is “mediocre” and that Gamel is a “butcher” at 3B. Ok, these may be true, but it sounds like a fair deal to me. Firpo’s only solid logic is that 6 years of Gamel is better than two years of Edwin.

Perhaps this is true, but I go back to what I said earlier, there are no steals in this day and age.

The Brewers need pitching and what good is Gamel if McGehee is going to be at 3B? Besides, the SP available in this market isn’t great and the Brewers will not win in 2010 without getting two SP’s. Jackson is the right move over many other options non-free agent.

Evan Brunell
13 years ago

I want to chime in to Jim saying they’re committed to Inge at third: They aren’t 100%. That’s the reasoning behind this move. And even if Inge sticks, you have 1B/DH available.