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News » Waiting for closure Brewers, Dodgers contend for Hoffman


Waiting for closure Brewers, Dodgers contend for Hoffman


Waiting for closure  Brewers, Dodgers contend for Hoffman
The Milwaukee Brewers can't fight geography, especially the kind of West Coast geography that players often prefer.

The Brewers should learn today what chance they have of signing closer Trevor Hoffman to a free-agent deal. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who could allow Hoffman to stay close to home, apparently represent the chief competition for Baseball's all-time saves leader.

"If (the other team) is L.A., he lives out there," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "All we can do is give it our best shot and see what happens."

Melvin spoke twice Tuesday with Rick Thurman, the lead agent for Hoffman, who has spent the last 16 years with San Diego, where he makes his home. During the final conversation, specific parameters were discussed on contract terms.

"We got more direction on the kind of numbers we're looking at," Melvin said. "We're going to look at it. We exchanged numbers to a point. We agreed to talk again (today)."

But Thurman also was in negotiations with the Dodgers, who reportedly offered a one-year deal with a club option for 2010. If Los Angeles has a distinct advantage in the tug-of-war based on geography, Thurman wasn't saying.

"We're working toward making him a Brewer," Thurman said. "I think it would be a really good place for him. But we're working on other things as well.

"I told (Melvin) where we want to be (in terms of a contract). We both understand more what each side wants. I think this should come to a conclusion (either way) in the next day or two."

What Thurman and Hoffman want is a two-year deal, even though the changeup specialist turned 41 in October. Melvin wouldn't say whether he'd be willing to commit two years guaranteed.

The Brewers were left without a closer when Salomon Torres announced his retirement after the 2008 season. Torres had taken over in May for struggling closer Eric Gagn? and converted 28 of 35 save opportunities. After the season, Gagn? became a free agent.

Hoffman, who had a $7.5 million salary in 2008, became a free agent after the budget-cutting Padres took a one-year, $4 million offer off the table in November. Hoffman, who has 554 career saves, converted 30 of 34 chances last season for the Padres, who won only 63 games.

Hoffman compiled a 3.77 earned run average, his highest figure since 1995. But he posted a 1.59 ERA in 18 second-half outings (the last-place Padres limited his appearances in the final weeks) and had an overall 1.04 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) with nine walks and 46 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings.

In 929 career games, including 28 as a rookie with Florida in 1993, Hoffman is 56-66 with a 2.78 ERA. The only closer to reach the 500-save plateau, he has 274 walks and 1,055 strikeouts in 988 innings with a 1.05 WHIP. He has pitched in six All-Star Games.

Hoffman is a Class A free agent but because the Padres did not offer him salary arbitration, the signing team does not have to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign him.

The Brewers can't compete with the geographical advantage Los Angeles would provide Hoffman, who is from Anaheim and lives north of San Diego. And it certainly doesn't hurt the Dodgers' chances that they have moved their spring training base from Vero Beach, Fla., to Glendale, Ariz.

The Brewers have made their interest known by having manager Ken Macha contact Hoffman as well as putting him in touch with trainer Roger Caplinger to discuss treatment and game preparation from a medical standpoint.

The Brewers also can guarantee Hoffman that he will be their unchallenged closer. The Dodgers have another option in hard-throwing Jonathan Broxton, who replaced injured closer Takashi Saito in the final weeks of the 2008 season. Fearful of Saito's health situation, Los Angeles did not tender him a contract for '09.

"He's got three young boys, so he could go home a lot more if he signs with Los Angeles," Melvin said. "That's what free agency allows a player to do: pick where it's best suited for him to play. But, so often, it comes down to money."

If the Brewers lose out on Hoffman, it won't be easy to find a replacement for Torres. Other than pitchers with health issues, the only other reliever on the market with any real closing experience is Brandon Lyon, who pitched himself out of that role in Arizona in the second half of last season, prompting the Diamondbacks to trade for Washington's Jon Rauch.

Until recently, the Brewers weren't sure there was any reciprocal interest on Hoffman's part. But Thurman assured that his client was seriously considering signing with Milwaukee.

"They definitely have interest and so does Trevor," Thurman said.

Spring invites: The Brewers invited three of their minor-league catchers to spring training: Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Corporan and Martin Maldonado. Lucroy is considered one of the top prospects in the organization.

Hoffman's numbers

Trevor Hoffman's season-by-season statistics over the past three seasons and his career totals from 16 major-league seasons:

Year W-L ERA Sv SvO

2008 3-6 3.77 30 34

2007 4-5 2.98 42 49

2006 0-2 2.14 46 51

Career 56-66 2.78 554 NA

Copyright 2009, 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.)


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 7, 2009

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