Crew remains in market for bullpen help
Broxton projected to close, but front office also seeking other veteran relievers
MILWAUKEE -- After the Brewers finalized a one-year pact with free-agent reliever Neal Cotts on Friday, assistant GM Gord Ash said the team is still seeking at least one more experienced bullpen arm.
"We're continuing to look, continuing to try to get better," Ash said. "You would still like another veteran presence there if you can."
At the moment, the Brewers are poised to enter the season with Jonathan Broxton as the closer, Will Smith and Cotts as left-handed setup options and Brandon Kintzler and Jeremy Jeffress from the right side. Right-handers Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg are question marks coming off injuries, and younger players such as right-handers Corey Knebel and David Goforth and left-hander Mike Strong will try to impress. Michael Blazek and Rob Wooten are also on the 40-man roster and have logged big league bullpen time.
Among the more experienced relievers still in play are Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, though trade talks between Milwaukee and Philadelphia have cooled considerably, and free agent Francisco Rodriguez. The Brewers aren't currently interested in free-agent closer Rafael Soriano.
"I can't really handicap it for you," Ash said. "One step in one area forces you to go in another direction."
Asked to characterize talks with the Phillies for Papelbon, Ash said, "It's there, but not much has happened lately."
Those trade talks are complicated, because Papelbon is due $13 million in 2015, with a $13 million option for '16 that vests if he makes 48 appearances. Papelbon also has limited no-trade rights that allow him to block a deal to Milwaukee and other clubs.
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported earlier this week that the Phillies remained in discussions with the Brewers and Blue Jays about Papelbon.