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Nelson opts for free agency

Nelson opts for free agency

ST. LOUIS -- Longtime Brewers farmhand Brad Nelson elected free agency on Friday rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville.

Nelson, 26, was hitless in 21 at-bats with the Brewers this season, including an 0-for-14 mark as a pinch-hitter. The Brewers removed him from the roster on Wednesday night and promoted prospect Mat Gamel, and Nelson had the right to refuse his demotion because it was his second outright.

"It's probably a wise decision on his part, with the outfield we have here and Prince [Fielder] at first base," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.

The first baseman and corner outfielder was a fourth-round pick of the Brewers in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. He was one of the longest-tenured players in the organization, behind only Bill Hall (sixth-round pick in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft), Corey Hart (11th round, 2000), Minor League pitcher Mike Jones (first round, 2001) and J.J. Hardy (second round, 2001).

Nelson won a spot on Milwaukee's Opening Day roster by hitting .354 in Spring Training, but he was not able to translate that success to the regular season. He was to earn $65,000 in the Minors this season but made slightly less than $100,000 during his time with the Brewers, a fact Melvin surmised might have made Nelson more willing to seek work elsewhere.

Could Seattle be a possibility? The Mariners' general manager is Jack Zduriencik, who was Milwaukee's scouting director when Nelson, who might be more suited for an American League team, was drafted.

"I've got a feeling [he'll] maybe go there," Melvin said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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