07/07/08 3:21 PM EST
Brewers net Sabathia for four prospects
Tribe ace, 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner lands in Milwaukee
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Like Sheets, Sabathia will be a free agent at year's end and there is a strong chance he will prove a three-month rental for the Brewers. The Indians reportedly offered him a four-year extension worth $72 million earlier this year, but Sabathia rejected it.Should Sabathia sign elsewhere in free agency, the Brewers would net two extra first-round Draft picks. Likewise, should Sheets move on. Neither Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio or Melvin gave any indication Monday that the Brewers would even attempt to re-sign Sabathia. "I told CC yesterday to just come over here, have fun, enjoy Milwaukee and being in a Brewers uniform," Melvin said. "Pitch his best and we'll worry about it at the end of the year. "That's the way I feel about the entire free agent process at this point. Our focus needs to be on winning ballgames. Most trades in July are going to be 'rentals.'" First contact between Melvin and Shapiro was "two or three weeks ago," according to Melvin, but talks heated up over the weekend. Early on, the sides settled on LaPorta as the centerpiece. LaPorta, 23, was just named the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Month for June. He hit .381 (40-for-105) for the month with two homers and 24 RBIs in 26 games and was named to the prestigious All-Star Futures Game. He will play first base for the U.S. team and also could be picked for the Olympic Summer Games. "We knew from Day 1 that it was going to cost us a premium player," Melvin said. "That's how I approached it. I said I wasn't going to try to shortchange [Shapiro] and the Indians on a deal and go back and forth and try to wiggle a Cy Young pitcher with lesser players. I was aggressive on Day 1 on it." "We're giving up a terrific young player and young man in Matt LaPorta," Attanasio said, "in order to take a shot for this team and this city over the next 3-4 months." The deal pushes the Brewers' payroll to about $90 million, according to Attanasio, and means the team will likely operate at a loss this season. But the trade was possible partly because of strong attendance this season; the Brewers rank 12th of the 30 Major League teams in average attendance (35,301) despite playing in the league's smallest media market. Sabathia's arrival should boost ticket and merchandise sales, Brewers executive vice president Rick Schlesinger said. The team formed a small working group some time ago to prepare for Sabathia's potential arrival, allowing the Brewers to unveil Sabathia t-shirts, scoreboard graphics and other features on Monday night. As of Sunday, about 30,000 tickets were sold for Tuesday night's game against the Rockies, which Sabathia will now start. Fans had gobbled up 3,000 of the 12,000-or-so open seats before the Brewers' 11 a.m. CT press conference to announce the deal. "We're expecting what I call a, 'CC surge,' because the phones have been ringing off the hook this morning," Schlesinger said. "With CC scheduled to start [Tuesday] night, we're expecting a good crowd out there."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.