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Melvin's interested in Sabathia's pitch count

Melvin's interested in Sabathia's pitch count
Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin tried to re-establish contact Tuesday with the representatives for free agent pitcher CC Sabathia.

Not to give a deadline for accepting his offer. And not to increase that offer.

Like the rest of the Baseball world, Melvin merely wanted to see what Sabathia's people had on their minds. But lead agent Greg Genske was not in the office, so Melvin left a message.

"I just wanted to touch base," Melvin said late Tuesday afternoon. "I haven't heard back from them yet."

Melvin had not made contact with Sabathia's agents since they acknowledged the Brewers' offer some two weeks ago. And the Brewers' Baseball boss had no idea if or when he'll get a response to the five-year, $100 million bid.

"I don't know," said Melvin. "It's hard to read."

The only other reported offer Sabathia had received was a six-year, $140 million bid from the New York Yankees. But the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the Los Angeles Angels were preparing to make an offer in that same price range.

If that proves to be true, the Angels would become the front-runner for Sabathia's services because he has confided in friends that he would like to pitch in California. Sabathia is from Vallejo, Calif., near San Francisco .

Whether the Giants or Dodgers make formal offers remains to be seen. Sabathia would like to stay in the National League but probably would settle for the perennially competitive Angels if they make a strong bid.

Melvin, who plans to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago, did not expect the Sabathia sweepstakes to conclude this week.

"I don't think so," he said. "I don't get that feeling. But you never know."

Melvin said Sabathia is the only Brewers free agent he has offered a new contract. Teams have a Monday deadline to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents to keep draft-pick compensation in order.

Sabathia is a Class A free agent and the Brewers will offer him arbitration if he still is unsigned by Monday. Should a team in the top half of the 30 clubs in terms of won-loss record in 2008 sign Sabathia, such as the Yankees or Angels, the Brewers would get their first-round pick in the June draft as well as a compensation pick after the first round.

If a team in the bottom half, such as the Giants, signs Sabathia, the Brewers would get its second-round pick as well as the compensation pick after the first round.

Right-hander Ben Sheets also is a Class A free agent. Melvin wouldn't commit to offering arbitration to Sheets but the Brewers would have to do so to guarantee draft pick compensation should he go elsewhere.

As for the other Milwaukee free agents, Melvin said he talked to the agent of outfielder Gabe Kapler but did not make a contract offer.

"It comes down to the opportunities they get someplace else," said Melvin, who is looking for left-handed bats (Kapler is right-handed) to add to his roster.

Reliever signed: The Brewers signed left-handed reliever R.J. Swindle to a major league contract. Swindle, 25, gives the Brewers another option as a left-handed specialist should free agent Brian Shouse sign with another club.

Shouse, 40, is seeking a two-year deal but the Brewers don't want to go beyond one year.

Swindle, a soft-tossing, submarine-style pitcher a la Shouse, spent most of the 2008 season in Philadelphia's farm system. Splitting time between Class AA and AAA, he was 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA in 38 games, with eight walks and 67 strikeouts in 53 innings.

The native Canadian has logged 194 minor-league innings with Boston, the New York Yankees and Phillies, striking out 226 hitters with only 25 walks and a 1.58 ERA.

Swindle made his major league debut with the Phillies in July and allowed nine hits and four runs in three appearances covering 4 2/3 innings. He currently is pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League and is 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA for Magallanes, with three walks and 17 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Swindle, who has two minor league options remaining, signed a split contract that guarantees him the major league minimum ($400,000 in 2009) if he makes the Brewers' roster in spring training.

"He doesn't throw hard but he gets left-handed hitters out," said Melvin. "His style is like Brian Shouse but he's built (6-3, 196) more like Mike Myers. He doesn't walk people."

Scouts promoted: The Brewers promoted two of their scouts to cross-checker positions, with Doug Reynolds taking over on the East Coast and Corey Rodriguez on the West Coast.

Rodriguez replaces Bruce Seid, who was elevated to director of amateur scouting when Jack Zduriencik left to become Seattle's general manager. Reynolds replaces Tom McNamara, who joined Zduriencik in Seattle.

Copyright 2008, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: November 27, 2008

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