Melvin says of plan to try to keep Sabathia: 'At least we have a chance'

Updated: October 18, 2008, 7:52 PM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Doug Melvin, who agreed to a three-year extension this week to remain as general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, said Saturday that the Brewers will make an offer to pitcher CC Sabathia, who will be eligible for free agency after the World Series.

The Brewers traded for Sabathia in early July, and Sabathia helped lift Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance since 1982.

CC Sabathia

Sabathia

Starting Pitcher
Milwaukee Brewers

Profile

2008 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
35 17 10 59 251 2.70

At the time the Brewers traded for Sabathia, there was no expectation that he would re-sign with them this fall. But Sabathia spoke about how he greatly enjoyed his time with the Brewers, and the city responded to the pitcher, filling seats at Miller Park on the days he pitched.

"At least we have a chance," Melvin said in a conference call with reporters, "whereas before, we wouldn't have any chance with a pitcher of CC's caliber. I do feel we will make him an offer, and at that point, it will be in his court."

The expectation within the industry is that Sabathia will seriously consider offers from teams in his home state of California, as well as a massive overture which is expected to come from the Yankees, who are trying to fill two spots in their rotation.

League sources say they expect Mark Attanasio, the Brewers' owner, to make a strong effort to retain Sabathia.

"It's hard to handicap our chances," Attanasio said during a conference call Saturday. "We've had a couple of things to deal with in front of player personnel, one being Doug and the second being the manager situation."

On Friday, Melvin informed Dale Sveum, the Brewers' interim manager for the final 12 games of the season and the playoffs, that he will not be retained as manager. Melvin says he is looking at "maybe five candidates" for the job -- and he made it clear he wants his next manager to have had experience and success in previous jobs.

Melvin would not say whom he has spoken with, but speculation in Milwaukee is that Melvin's list includes Bob Brenly, the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the World Series in 2001; Buck Showalter, formerly the manager of the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers and currently an analyst with ESPN; former Oakland manager Ken Macha; and Jim Tracy, formerly the manager of the Dodgers and Pirates.

The Brewers' players reportedly liked Sveum, for whom Melvin had kind words -- "I liked Dale, I admired Dale," Melvin said.

But he believes the Brewers might benefit from having someone outside the organization come in "to give us a different viewpoint, a different perspective."

"I think the players have to adjust to the manager as much as the manager needs to adjust to the players," Melvin said.

The GM intends to personally speak to Ben Sheets -- another Milwaukee pitcher who is eligible for free agency -- to gauge Sheets' intent. Melvin's intention also is to try to give the Brewers more left-handed hitting to balance what has been a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup.

Melvin and Attanasio had disagreed about the decision to fire Ned Yost as manager with just two weeks to go in the regular season, and there was some talk within baseball that Melvin, whose previous contract ran through the 2009 season, might seek work elsewhere, such as in Seattle.

But Melvin said that when he asked Attanasio about an extension, the Brewers' owner indicated he wanted to keep Melvin, and put together an offer within a week. For Melvin, this was confirmation that he was wanted.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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