Torres' retirement has 'pen in flux
GM Melvin says Brewers will discuss all available free-agent closers
MILWAUKEE -- When Brewers closer Salomon Torres called it quits this week, opting to retire from active duty after one of the best seasons of his career, he dug yet another hole at the back of the Brewers' bullpen.It could be some time before general manager Doug Melvin starts filling in those holes. "We had to fill in some holes in the bullpen last year, too," Melvin said after what he called a good chat with Torres. "We'll have to sit down and talk about it. We have been spending most of our time on other things." Like hiring a manager, several new coaches and a new scouting director. Now that Melvin is free to move on to player matters, he is more likely to focus first on starting pitching -- CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are the team's highest-profile free agents and both are starters -- and then finding a left-handed bat, preferably a third baseman, to plug into a righty-heavy lineup. Melvin expects to settle those matters before moving on to the bullpen, even though Torres' retirement left the Brewers without a closer. He was the team's fourth major bullpen loss since the end of the season, joining free-agent right-handers Eric Gagne and Guillermo Mota and left-handed specialist Brian Shouse. "We've been able to find closers before," said Melvin, who watched Dan Kolb and Derrick Turnbow transform from castoffs into All-Stars for the Brewers. Torres did not make the All-Star team in 2008, but he enjoyed a similar renaissance, stepping in for Gagne in late May and going 27-for-32 in save chances as the closer (Torres was 28-for-35 all season). The free-agent market could provide some candidates for Torres' replacement, though Melvin hinted strongly that the Brewers are unlikely to pay top dollar given their patchwork successes in recent years. The latest arm available is Trevor Hoffman, who was likely to hit the market after the Padres withdrew a $4 million offer on Monday. Hoffman joined some big names in free agency, most notably record-setting Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez. Kerry Wood of the Cubs and Brian Fuentes of the Rockies are also available. That latter trio of arms can expect to command multiple years and big dollars. Hoffman, who has reportedly had a falling-out with the Padres, could perhaps be had for a one-year deal. Melvin was vague when asked if he had interest in Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, leaving open the possibility that the Brewers may be interested. "Anybody who's out there and available, we'll have conversations about him," 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.