Brewers decline Jenkins' $9M option for 2008
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."
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.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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