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Brewers decline Jenkins' $9M option for 2008

MILWAUKEE -- Geoff Jenkins enjoyed a solid year as the
Milwaukee Brewers stayed in playoff contention for most of the
season.

Now they're moving on without him.

The Brewers said Tuesday they've declined a $9 million option
for Jenkins, parting ways with the veteran left fielder who has
played his entire career in Milwaukee.

"I don't think there's going to be any shortage of opportunity
for him once he hits the free-agent market," agent Damon Lapa
said.

A message left with the 33-year-old Jenkins was not immediately
returned.

Jenkins was nicknamed "The Glue" by young teammates like
Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks as Jenkins stuck around for several
miserable years waiting for them to develop. Jenkins was called up
midseason in 1998 and was the longest tenured Brewer.

From 1999 on, the Brewers went 525-811 and had four years of at
least 94 losses. Milwaukee had its first winning season since 1992
this year, holding an 8½-game lead in the NL Central in June before
sliding to 83-79.

"It's going to be an interesting opportunity for Geoff, because
you've got to realize he's been in the big leagues for nine-plus
years, but this is really the first time he's ever been a free
agent," Lapa said.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he told Jenkins on
Tuesday that they appreciated his efforts and thought he should
pursue a multiyear deal with another organization.

"It's sort of bittersweet because he's played a big part of his
career when the team wasn't very good and now that the team's
getting a little bit better, it's the time that we're going to be
parting ways," Melvin said.

Jenkins, who played at Southern California and was drafted in
the first round in 1995, isn't committed to returning to the West
Coast, instead looking for "a competitive team, an opportunity to
win, a good organization," Lapa said.

"As far as narrowing his targets, Geoff's going into free
agency with an open mind," Lapa said.

Jenkins was emotional in the clubhouse at the end the 2006
season, believing that the team would trade him in the final year
of a three-year, $23 million extension and bitter after he was
benched for a prolonged period.

Instead, he became a father in January and returned with a
renewed enthusiasm in the final guaranteed year of his contract.
Part of a platoon with Kevin Mench, Jenkins hit .255 with 21 homers
and 64 RBIs in 132 games.

The move to decline the option was hardly a surprise to anyone,
including Jenkins.

Brewers manager Ned Yost replaced him in the ninth inning of his
final game in Milwaukee, and Jenkins received a warm ovation from
fans.

"It's happy and sad all at once," Jenkins said afterward. "I
have no regrets. I had a wonderful time here. I've played with a
ton of great teammates. That's what I will miss the most."

Lapa said Melvin told him Monday
that Jenkins would not be retained.

Jenkins earned a $1 million buyout after reaching certain
thresholds for plate appearances. Jenkins, a career .277 hitter,
had 212 homers with the Brewers, second-most on the club's list
behind Robin Yount's 251.

"Based on the free-agent landscape, there's very few
left-handed power hitters on the market this season," Lapa said.
"As far as corner outfielders with left-handed pop, scarcity is
obviously a thing that generally benefits the player."

Melvin said the Brewers hadn't decided how to fill the void in
left field. Gabe Gross, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Joe Dillon could get a
shot at the job.

Milwaukee also hired Ted Simmons as bench coach Tuesday and
moved Dale Sveum back to third-base coach. Sveum replaces Nick
Leyva, who was let go at the end of the season. Melvin declined
comment about Jenkins during a conference call introducing Simmons.

It's the professional coaching debut for the 58-year-old
Simmons, who was well-liked as a player in Milwaukee and a key
member of the Brewers' last postseason team in 1982.

Simmons had been in the front offices of St. Louis, Pittsburgh,
Cleveland and San Diego from 1988-2007 in a variety of roles after
a 21-year playing career in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

He was an eight-time All-Star and hit .285 with 248 home runs
and 1,389 RBIs in 2,456 career games.

The Brewers also announced relievers Francisco Cordero, Ray King
and Scott Linebrink, third baseman Corey Koskie and catcher Damian Miller filed for free agency.