Brewers keep shopping at Meetings
Riske takes physical in Milwaukee; trade talks for Rolen halt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Brewers dropped out of the running for St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but did move a step closer to finalizing a long-rumored deal with free agent reliever David Riske, who took a physical in Milwaukee.General manager Doug Melvin confirmed Tuesday that the Brewers' interest in Rolen had cooled because of the same stumbling blocks reported Monday, including the money left on Rolen's contract ($36 million over the next three years) and concerns about Rolen's thrice-repaired left shoulder. An ESPN.com story Tuesday afternoon said it was Chris Capuano, center fielder Bill Hall and a prospect going to St. Louis in the proposed deal, but that the Cardinals were wary of trading within the National League Central. Melvin countered that report, saying it was the Brewers who pulled out, and that the teams never agreed on the players involved. "It doesn't look like it's going to happen," Melvin said Tuesday evening. "Things can get revived, but at this point, we just said it didn't have much momentum. We wanted to make that clear. ... I don't think it was them as much as us." Cardinals GM John Mozeliak seemed to confirm that sentiment in a meeting with St. Louis reporters. "Not getting into specifics, I would just say that we're not having a meeting of the minds there," Mozeliak said. With Rolen off the table for now, the Brewers will regroup Wednesday to discuss available left fielders and third basemen. They are open to options at both positions because National League Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun could move from third base to left. The Brewers' interest in White Sox third baseman Joe Crede is tepid because of Crede's back problems and the fact he is a free agent after 2008. They have discussed Texas third baseman Hank Blalock, but Melvin said he had not heard specifically that Blalock is available, and is not willing to move the type of young talent the Rangers would surely seek. Ditto on the Orioles' Miguel Tejada. "The tough part of any of the guys we're dealing with is that you have to give up pretty good players," Melvin said. "We have built our team to this point with young guys, and to give up that depth in our organization ... can be risky on our part." The Brewers would not have to give up any players to sign free agent Tadahito Iguchi, most recently of the Phillies, who apparently has relented on his desire to play second base. Agent Rocky Hall told reporters on Tuesday that the Brewers have shown interest in Iguchi. "That's doable, because his family is in Chicago," Hall said. Iguchi turned 33 on Tuesday and has batted .276 with 43 home runs and 181 RBIs in three seasons, though his production dropped off during a 2007 season split between the White Sox and Phillies. He has reportedly drawn interest from a number of clubs, including the Giants, Rockies, Padres and Phillies.
If the Brewers are unable to find a fit, they would leave Braun at third base and use some combination of left-handed hitters Gabe Gross and Tony Gwynn, Jr. and right-handed hitter Joe Dillon in left field, Melvin said.Braun traveled with his father, Joe, to Nashville on Tuesday for a Baseball America reception in which he was named the magazine's Major League Rookie of the Year and Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik was named Major League Executive of the Year. Braun confirmed that he is open to making a move. "Honestly, for me, it's about winning," said Braun, who said as much to Melvin last month. "We had an honest discussion. I am certainly aware of the situation. I have confidence in my defensive ability and I know I am going to be a good third baseman, but I know it's a process and it's going to take a couple of years. If we can do something to make the team better defensively right away, I'm all for it." Do the Brewers have any other trade in the works? "We've got two or three that we're talking about, but they're not at a level where I think they'd get done here [in Nashville]," said Melvin, who returns to Milwaukee on Thursday night. Brewers officials spent much of Tuesday at scheduled events, including the Baseball America reception and a dinner with representatives of Milwaukee's Minor League affiliates, leaving little time to talk specifics with Nez Belelo, who represents Riske. The Brewers have been close with the right-hander since last week, but were waiting to iron out some incentives and for Riske to undergo the requisite health check. "We don't anticipate problems," Melvin said. Balelo said other teams remain "absolutely" in play for Riske, but wouldn't say whether he and his client were pondering any other concrete offers. Four teams, including the Brewers made a strong push for Riske, according to Balelo. "We feel really comfortable with the situation in Milwaukee and we're trying to do everything we can to make the situation right so we can move forward and possibly make him a Brewer," Balelo said. The possibility to close helped woo Riske, Balelo said. The Brewers were unable to re-sign All-Star closer Francisco Cordero and are prepared to enter the season with Derrick Turnbow in that role. Riske would be a logical Plan B. A baseball source said Tuesday that the Brewers had also called the A's to inquire about the availability of closer Huston Street. But Oakland GM Billy Beane plans to meet with Street's agent before the end of the Winter Meetings to discuss a contract extension. Melvin said the Brewers will probably pass on selecting a player during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, but they apparently were considering Jon Baker, a catcher in the Marlins system.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.