Minors pitcher acquired in deal for Hall
Brewers say trade also gives them limited financial flexibility
PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers found a taker for Bill Hall and at least some of his hefty contract on Wednesday, when they traded the slumping infielder to the Mariners for a Class A reliever.For Hall, who had been designated for assignment last week, Milwaukee received Buddy Flores, a lanky right-hander who had recently been promoted to the advanced Class A California League. The Brewers assigned Flores, whose given first name is Ruben, to their own advanced Class A affiliate in Brevard County, Fla. 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). "Obviously, when you enter into a long-term deal with a player, you hope that it's going to have a much different ending than this one has," Ash said. "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." The Brewers and Mariners reached an agreement on the trade earlier in the day, but had to get approval from the Commissioner's Office because of the financial component. That came through just after 4:30 p.m. CT. At least one other team showed legitimate interest in Hall, 29, who batted .201 in limited duty this season with six home runs and 24 RBIs. General manager Doug Melvin "was carrying on most of the conversation, and he had a couple of clubs seriously interested, one in the National League and one in the American League, with a couple of others who made calls but were not serious," Ash said. "The National League club, in the last short while, didn't feel like it could match the financial relief that we were going to get with the Mariners." 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. "I saw someone wrote about significant Major League pitchers, but when you're in this situation when you designate a player for assignment and you're a day removed from releasing that player, a club's not going to go to that length to acquire a player like this," Ash said. "They can just wait and acquire the player as a free agent." Hall, a 1998 Draft pick, had been the longest-tenured player in Milwaukee's organization. The Mariners, whose GM, Jack Zduriencik, was Milwaukee's amateur scouting director until last year but did not draft Hall, needed a third baseman to replace disabled third baseman Adrian 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 10 1/3 innings for the High Desert Mavericks, a former Milwaukee affiliate, but spent most of the year with Clinton in the Midwest League, and posted a 2.30 ERA and 18 saves in 36 games. "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."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.