Brewers offer Suppan four-year deal
Right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in seven starts at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- Jeff Suppan's agent says the veteran right-hander is just as interested in the Brewers as the Brewers are in him. But that does not mean Suppan is ready to sign on the dotted line.
The team submitted a four-year contract offer in writing on Wednesday, a day after general manager Doug Melvin, manager Ned Yost and principal owner Mark Attanasio hosted Suppan and agent Scott Leventhal at Attanasio's Los Angeles home. The men wined, dined and discussed a variety of topics for five hours.
"One of the reasons for the meeting with Doug, Ned and Mark was to sit down with 'Soup' and gauge his interest level," said Leventhal, who was also present. "Soup's interest could not be more sincere."
The Brewers were apparently convinced of that. Melvin met again with Leventhal on Wednesday and made the formal offer.
But that does not mean Suppan is ready to sign just yet. A number of teams are reportedly in the running for the right-hander's services, some as a fallback in case they cannot sign free agent left-hander Barry Zito. The Mets are one of at least two teams showing interest in both Zito and Suppan, and Mets officials met with Leventhal and Suppan later Wednesday. According to various media reports Thursday, New York has also submitted a four-year offer.
"Our interest level is serious and sincere, and I hope they respect that," Melvin said. "He's not a fallback guy for us. We've stepped up and made him our No. 1 guy."
The fact Zito is still available could affect the timing of a deal for Suppan, who would be wise to leave the door open to as many offers as possible. Given the current market for pitching, Suppan, who will turn 32 on Jan. 2, will likely command a per-season salary of more than $10 million. Sheets, who is in the middle of a four-year, $38.5 million contract, is Milwaukee's only current player earning eight digits.
Leventhal wouldn't say whether Suppan would wait for Zito to sign before making a decision. He also refused to put a deadline on negotiations.
"I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't know what the timetable will be," he said.
Suppan is 44-26 with a 3.95 ERA over the past three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He posted double-digit win totals in each of the last four seasons and is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in seven career starts at Miller Park.
Suppan boosted his own value during the Cardinals' run to the World Series, and he is 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA in nine postseason starts over the last three seasons with St. Louis.
"We're in an information-gathering stage [with] a few offers on the table and more to come," Leventhal said. "Before Soup and [his wife] Dana make a decision, they want to have all of the information that's available."
Suppan would join a Milwaukee starting rotation with Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas. If they are unsuccessful in their bid for Suppan, the Brewers will likely go with 23-year-old right-hander Carlos Villanueva.
Milwaukee is an intriguing destination, Leventhal said, and not just because of Suppan's recent success there.
"When you take a look at the young guys on that pitching staff and that team, you feel that they are on the cusp of some big things to come," Leventhal said. "They suffered a lot of injuries last year, and you wonder without those injuries, what would have happened?"
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.