Brewers put relief help on back burner

Brewers put relief help on back burner

Brewers put relief help on back burner

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin would ideally add two experienced relief arms to the bullpen, but said he was focused on settling first base before moving to the relief market.

"We don't want to go and spend money on bullpen help and then we find, 'Oh man, we could have had this guy at first base instead,'" Melvin said Monday. "That all interacts with each other. We're not in a situation where we can go and do what we want on two or three spots and worry about it later."

The Brewers already have about $68 million in 2014 payroll committed to eight players -- Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Kyle Lohse, Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks -- and are projected to spend another $5 million on Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco in arbitration. That leaves 15 players to sign. Last year's Opening Day payroll was in the neighborhood of $85 million.

If the budget permits, Melvin's preference is for experienced relievers who have closed games, but it's a short list. So far, the club hasn't discussed bringing back John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez, both of whom fit the bill. The Brewers have checked in about former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Other free agents with closer experience include Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez.

The Brewers already are set with closer Jim Henderson and setup man Brandon Kintzler, each of whom had breakthrough seasons in 2013. Gorzelanny underwent shoulder surgery last week, but should be ready for Opening Day. Other in-house options include right-handers Rob Wooten, Donovan Hand, Michael Blazek and Alfredo Figaro, plus a stable of young starting pitchers who could shift to relief (Hiram Burgos, Mike Fiers among them).

"We have some bodies we like, it's just a matter of experience versus non-experience," Melvin said. "It's not a matter of having to go out and having to get four guys. Maybe two veteran status-type guys."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.