Notes: Brewers pursuing Suppan
Milwaukee continues to search for quality pitching additions
MILWAUKEE -- If they can't beat him, they'll try to reel him in.
The Brewers have shown interest in free-agent right-hander Jeff Suppan, but have yet to extend an offer to the career Brewers-killer and reigning National League Championship Series MVP.
"I know we have an interest, but I still have to gauge his interest in us," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said. "It's not something that I take too seriously right now because you never know what other teams are on his list. But he's been a good pitcher, durable through the years and he knows the league. It's something we'll sit down and talk about."
Scott Leventhal, Suppan's agent, was not immediately available Friday to discuss Suppan's interest. Leventhal told USA Today earlier this week, that one team had made a formal offer and that at least five clubs had shown interest, including the Brewers.
Suppan boosted his own value during the St. Louis Cardinals' run to the World Series, and he is 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA in nine postseason starts over the last three seasons with St. Louis.
Melvin said he spoke Thursday with Leventhal and was encouraged by the response. That has not always been the case this winter for Milwaukee, which received chilly receptions from free agents like Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt, and was also shunned by Dave Roberts.
"There are reasons why [Suppan] would come, and I'll just leave it at that," Melvin said.
One reason could be his past success at Miller Park, where Suppan is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in seven starts. He is 12-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 career outings against Milwaukee, boosting his career record to 106-101 in 12 seasons with five different teams. He has a 4.60 ERA.
The price of free agents has been sky-high, but the Brewers apparently have some flexibility with plans to boost payroll to the $60 million range. Melvin explored trading outfielders Geoff Jenkins and/or Kevin Mench for a starting pitcher during last week's Winter Meetings to no avail, and the best pitchers left on the free-agent market are Barry Zito, Suppan and Jeff Weaver. Zito and Weaver are represented by Scott Boras, and the Brewers do not seem interested in either player.
"I think the free-agent stuff is starting to dry up," Melvin said. "Teams are starting to step back and say, 'Woah! Are these really good deals?'"
Melvin will continue the search for pitching. Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas are set in the rotation, and Melvin said the front-runner for the fifth spot is 23-year-old Carlos Villanueva.
"There's not that much left out there [on the free-agent market], and there's nothing on the trade front, either," Melvin said. "I think the big rush is over."
We'll talk: Melvin has had some contact with Dan Lozano, the agent for infielder Tony Graffanino, and the sides will discuss the possibility of a two-year contract. Graffanino passed on an opportunity to become a free agent when he accepted the Brewers' arbitration offer last week.
"It caught a lot of people off-guard," Melvin said. "I think a lot of people expected that he would go elsewhere."
Had he declined the Brewers' arbitration and signed elsewhere, Milwaukee would have received two extra draft picks in the first two rounds. Graffanino and Craig Counsell will serve as reserve infielders next season.
"We'll talk about a two-year deal, but it isn't like there's a deadline," Melvin said. "And if that doesn't work out, then we'll just bring him back for one year."
Club signs pitcher: The Brewers came to terms this week with right-handed pitcher Chris Oxspring on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Oxspring, 29, a native of Australia, made five relief appearances for the Padres in 2005 and most recently pitched for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
Going once, going twice ... Fans have until 5 p.m. CT on Monday to place bids in an online auction to benefit the families of three men lost in an industrial explosion at Falk Corp., near Miller Park on Dec. 6. The money raised will go to the Falk Families Fund.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.