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12/08/08 11:22 PM EST
Melvin says Brewers still in hunt for CC
GM dismisses 'speculation' that Milwaukee has sweetened deal
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
LAS VEGAS -- After a short face-to-face meeting with CC Sabathia's representatives, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin didn't hesitate when asked whether Milwaukee was still in the running for the free agent left-hander. "Yes," Melvin said after a 30-minute sit-down that Sabathia did not attend. "Until we're told we're no longer involved, then I take it as we still have a chance. Other teams can drop out, too."
Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash traveled the few blocks from the Bellagio to the Wynn for a late-morning meeting with Sabathia reps Greg Genske, Brian Peters and Scott Parker. Both sides agreed to meet again before the close of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, but the Brewers didn't get any better sense of when Sabathia will make his choice.
Club officials did apparently try to gauge Sabathia's interest in returning. He's a California native, and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told reporters on Monday that Sabathia told him flat-out on Sunday that he wants to be a Dodger.
So the Brewers did their best to ask whether Sabathia was seriously considering a coming back to Milwaukee.
"I asked [Genske] if there were any other issues outside of money that we needed to discuss," Ash said. "Makeup of the club going forward. The staff changes that we had. He said he was very familiar with our club and satisfied with all of those issues. That really was a short discussion. We gave a very direct opportunity to ask those questions, and it wasn't addressed."
Melvin said he has offered to travel to California for a face-to-face meeting with the pitcher along with L.A.-based Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. Genske declined.
"They didn't think it was necessary," Melvin said.
Added Ash: "He's been around our club long enough to not have those kinds of questions that a free agent might."
And Melvin again: "It's not a matter of us having to recruit him. It's probably a matter regarding the contract."
Meaning, the Brewers might just not be bidding enough. But Melvin said Genske did not specifically ask the team to up its offer during Monday's meeting, though Genske did "have some questions for us that we weren't prepared to answer."
Melvin declined to enumerate those issues and continued his stance Monday of not commenting on Milwaukee's proposal. He did say the Brewers "got a feel" from Sabathia's reps about how their offer stacks up.
Melvin wouldn't even say whether the Brewers in any way had increased their initial contract proposal. Earlier in the day, Melvin dismissed as "speculation" reports that the Brewers were preparing to sweeten their own offer for Sabathia.
Those reports appeared in several outlets Monday and quoted unnamed sources saying the Brewers were preparing to or had already added a sixth year to their initial five-year proposal, and that the Brewers were willing to include a clause that would allow Sabathia to opt out of the deal after two or three seasons.
"[Those sources] haven't talked to me," Melvin said. "I haven't talked to Mark about that."
Attanasio leaves baseball matters to Melvin but would have to be consulted before the Brewers could extend their already club-record offer to Sabathia. The biggest contract in club history belongs to outfielder Ryan Braun, who signed a seven-year extension that will pay $45-$51 million. The offer to Sabathia reportedly was for five years and about $100 million.
Melvin is not philosophically opposed to the idea of opt-outs. He was the Rangers' general manager when Alex Rodriguez signed his record, $252 million contract that included an opt-out seven years into the deal. Rodriguez famously exercised that right during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.
So far, only the Brewers and Yankees have publicly acknowledged making an offer to Sabathia.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.