Sabathia rumors swirl in Milwaukee
Brewers thought to be pursuing Indians' starter
MILWAUKEE -- Although general manager Doug Melvin was unavailable to talk to the media Saturday afternoon, his words were still causing all the buzz at the ballpark before the day's game.If recent rumors are true, the Brewers are working feverishly toward a deal that would send Cleveland Indians starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in exchange for a few of the team's coveted prospects.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Saturday the team is trying to close a deal that could package top prospect Matt LaPorta, Minor League third baseman Taylor Green and perhaps one more Minor Leaguer in return for Sabathia."Cleveland is in control of this, not us," Melvin said in an interview with the Journal-Sentinel. "They told us that they're talking to other clubs, too. You never know how these things are working out. "I've talked to Cleveland. We've discussed players. They're trying to make the best deal they can. At least we've got players they're willing to discuss. But I don't anticipate anything in the next couple of days." Sabathia is considered by most around the game to be the top starting pitcher available as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. He is the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, and he is 6-8 this season with a 3.83 ERA and an AL-best 123 strikeouts in 122 1/3 innings. The Indians made it known that Sabathia was on the trading block when they began to struggle this season, falling into last place in the AL Central. This caused a number of clubs to be involved in trade rumors surrounding the left-hander. A free agent after the season, Sabathia and the Indians made no progress on a long-term deal to keep the ace in Cleveland past 2008, and the Brewers would likely have little shot to do the same -- should they acquire him. LaPorta and Green are both highly regarded prospects in the Brewers' farm system. Entering play Saturday, LaPorta was batting .291 with 20 homers and 66 runs batted in at Double-A Huntsville. Green has batted .297 with a .381 on-base percentage so far this season in the Class A Florida State League. But the Brewers would likely be willing to part with them if it meant adding a starter like Sabathia for a run that might include the team's first playoff berth in 26 years. The window of opportunity for this team to make the playoffs, as it's assembled now, is a short one. Ace starter Ben Sheets is a free agent at the end of the 2008 season, and the Brewers likely won't be able to afford the price tag he'll command as a free agent. The contract situation with first baseman Prince Fielder is also still up in the air. But for a team that has been absent from the postseason since 1982, taking a gamble that includes losing a couple of prized prospects now -- and likely Sheets and Sabathia in the offseason -- might be one the Brewers are willing to make. Still, manager Ned Yost isn't saying much when it comes to the rumor. "A rumor is a rumor," Yost said. "It doesn't mean anything. You don't really pay attention too much."
Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.