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Bullpen arms could be next to move for Brewers

Wednesday's looming Trade Deadline could see Crew deal reliever

DENVER -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has already made one significant move this month, but the Brewers are open-minded about doing more before Wednesday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

With reliever Francisco Rodriguez already shipped to the Orioles and first baseman Corey Hart and third baseman Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list, Melvin has no "must move" pieces left. He will work the phones from Miller Park this week while the Brewers play at Wrigley Field, waiting to see if any contending clubs make intriguing offers.

"When it gets down to the final two days, moves are reactionary sometimes," Melvin said Sunday afternoon. "Sometimes teams are just waiting other teams out, gauging interest. A lot of teams wanted to wait through this weekend, just to see where they are by the end of today.

"There's nothing unusual at this time. I think teams in the final two days have identified possibilities down to three, four, five teams. Probably not much more than that."

For the Brewers, their position is clear. They may not be "sellers," a term Melvin doesn't like, but they are certainly not buyers. The Brewers will enter a four-game series against the Cubs battling their Interstate 94 rivals for fourth place in the National League Central. The division-leading Cardinals, Pirates and Reds are way ahead.

Among the players Melvin could still move before the Deadline are relievers Michael Gonzalez, who will be a free agent at season's end, and John Axford, who is earning $5 million this season as a setup man and will be due a raise for 2014 in arbitration. Rival scouts have also been monitoring starters Yovani Gallardo (signed through next season with a club option for 2015) and Kyle Lohse (signed through 2015).

As far as moving a bat, Melvin's options are very limited. Hart, a free agent after this season, might have been an outstanding trade candidate if he had not undergone surgeries on each knee this year. Ditto for Ramirez, who is signed through next season and has been bothered all year by a sprained left knee. He is currently on the disabled list.

If the Brewers' make another move, it will probably involve one of their relievers.

"There are still people snooping around, but the thing is, there are a lot of relievers out there," Melvin said. "There's very few starting pitchers and very few bats. Relievers, there is a lot of options. Teams looking for a reliever are trying to find the one they can get for the least."

In other words, if the Brewers want to acquire more significant players before Wednesday, it would cost them a starting pitcher.

It would take a strong offer to convince Melvin to move a Lohse or Gallardo.

"I always have to be open-minded in case something happens," Melvin said. "My gut feeling is nothing is going to happen with the starting pitching, but I always reserve the opportunity to change our mind."

As for whether being denied the opportunity to gauge interest in Hart or Ramirez could hurt the Brewers in the long term, Melvin said, "I never went into the season thinking, 'Boy, I hope Aramis and Corey stay healthy so we can trade them.' My thinking was always that if they stay healthy, we could compete. Now that they're not healthy, there's nothing we can do."

For Rodriguez, the Brewers acquired third-base prospect Nicky Delmonico, a player they coveted in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Delmonico just turned 21 and debuted Saturday for Class A Brevard County, going 0-for-3.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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