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Brewers open bidding for ace pitcher Sabathia, GM says

11/14/2008 - MLB CC Sabathia Milwaukee Brewers + more

The Milwaukee Brewers have opened up the bidding for free-agent ace CC Sabathia.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Monday that the team made a contract proposal to Sabathia over the weekend but wasn't willing to discuss terms of the offer or assess the team's chances of keeping its prize pitcher.

"It's in their hands," Melvin said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He hasn't really had a chance to talk with other teams."

Sabathia, who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for Milwaukee after he was traded from the Cleveland Indians on July 7, filed for free agency over the weekend and is expected to draw interest from big-market teams who could outbid the Brewers. His new deal could top Johan Santana's $137.5 million, six-year contract with the New York Mets.

Melvin is in Dana Point, Calif., for this week's general managers meetings, continuing what has already been a busy offseason.

The Brewers hired new manager Ken Macha last week and are expected to announce that former interim manager Dale Sveum will be retained as the team's new hitting coach, a move Sveum recently confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Sveum replaced Ned Yost, who was fired with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

In yet another move, pitching coach Mike Maddux is leaving to take the same position with the Texas Rangers.

And Milwaukee announced on Monday that it has exercised its $10 million option on center fielder Mike Cameron's contract for next season.

But the real prize would be keeping Sabathia, whose dominant pitching went a long way toward powering the Brewers to their first playoff appearance since 1982. Milwaukee lost to the eventual World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in the first round.

Sabathia was the anchor of the staff in the second half of the season for Milwaukee, throwing seven complete games and three shutouts. Overall, the 28-year-old left-hander was 17-10 with a 2.70 ERA for the Indians and Brewers.

Fellow Brewers starter Ben Sheets, a talented but injury-plagued right-hander, has also filed for free agency.

Other Brewers free agents include third baseman Russell Branyan, second baseman Ray Durham, reliever Eric Gagne, outfielder Gabe Kapler, third baseman Mike Lamb and reliever Guillermo Mota.

The 35-year-old Cameron batted .243 with 25 home runs, 70 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 120 games during his first season with the Brewers. He made 119 starts, all in center field, and committed only one error after beginning the season on suspension for using a banned stimulant the previous year.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.