Brantley goes to Tribe to finish CC deal
Brewers send outfield prospect as final trade piece for ace
MILWAUKEE -- A day after CC Sabathia threw what could prove his final Brewers pitch, the price to get him in the first place went up.The Indians selected outfielder Michael Brantley on Friday as the player to be named later in the July 7 Sabathia trade, forcing the Brewers to part with one of their top center-field and leadoff-hitting prospects. Brantley, 21, hit .319 and scored 80 runs at Double-A Huntsville in 2008. Cleveland got to choose between Brantley and infielder Taylor Green because Milwaukee, thanks largely to Sabathia, made it to the postseason for the first time since 1982. Had the Brewers fallen short of the postseason, they would have been able to choose the player to complete the deal.
Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said that such a contingency was rare. Agreeing to it was the final hurdle in completing the deal."Cleveland liked both players, and so did we," Melvin said. "That's why we couldn't come to an agreement. The problem was both players got hurt. They hardly got to see any of them play." Brantley was limited to four games in July by an ankle injury. Green, who batted .289 with 15 home runs and 73 RBIs for Class A Brevard County, was hit on the wrist by a pitch on Aug. 12 and missed the rest of the season. Brantley was supposed to represent the Brewers in the Arizona Fall League, but now Lorenzo Cain will go. Green will also be there as a replacement for injured third-base prospect Mat Gamel (right elbow), Melvin said. In the end, the deal was Sabathia for Minor League outfielders Matt LaPorta and Brantley, Minor League right-hander Rob Bryson and left-hander Zach Jackson, who had split the season with the Brewers and Triple-A Nashville. The deal certainly was worth it from Milwaukee's perspective, but the price was high. LaPorta was widely considered the Brewers' top hitting prospect, and Brantley's Double-A manager, former Brewer Don Money, predicted Brantley would be a big league factor in late 2009 or early 2010. Brantley was Milwaukee's seventh-round Draft pick in 2005. "That's a good player," said Brewers shortstop Alcides Escobar, who spent the year at Huntsville, usually hitting second behind Brantley. "He can play in the big leagues right now." Escobar marveled at Brantley's strike-zone discipline. Brantley had nearly twice as many walks (50) as strikeouts (27) and ranked second in the entire Minor Leagues with 17.7 plate appearances per strikeout. But Sabathia exceeded all of Milwaukee's expectations, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 Brewers starts. He did not make his Brewers debut until July 8, yet still led the National League with seven complete games, two more than runner-up Ben Sheets. No other National Leaguer went the distance more than three times. "The deal worked for us," Melvin said. "I think it will work for [the Indians], too."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.