Looper, Brewers agree to deal

Updated: February 12, 2009, 8:04 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander Braden Looper and the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday agreed to a one-year contract with an option for 2010 that could make the deal worth $12.25 million.

"Braden brings to our ballclub a veteran presence who takes the ball and gives you a chance to win," general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. "His workhorse approach is something that we needed to fill out our rotation and make up for some of the loss of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets."

The deal gaurantees Looper $5.5 million. He gets a $4.75 million salary this season and can make up to $1 million in performance bonuses based on starts, getting the entire amount with 30.

Milwaukee has a $6 million option for 2010 with a $750,000 buyout, but if Looper pitches 180 innings this year it becomes a $6.5 million option with a $1 million buyout.

If Milwaukee exercises the option, Looper has the right to decline it but he would forfeit the buyout.

The 34-year-old Looper, went 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA in 33 starts with St. Louis last season. Looper is 58-58 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Florida Marlins and New York Mets. The reliever-turned-starter also has 103 saves in 573 relief appearances.

Since becoming a starter two years ago, he's 24-26 with a 4.50 ERA.

To make room for Looper, the Brewers designated catcher Vinny Rottino for assignment.

The addition of Looper gives the Brewers' pitching staff more flexibility after losing their top two options this offseason. Looper pitched 199 innings last year, more than any current pitcher on the Milwaukee roster.

The Brewers had five established starters before signing Looper. Now, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Manny Parra, Seth McClung and recent acquisition Chase Wright will have an opportunity to solidify a spot starting rotation.

But the signing also cuts Milwaukee's potential for making another major move over the course of the season with a payroll already in the mid-$80 million range.

That flexibility last season allowed the team to trade for Sabathia in July, and he helped lead Milwaukee to its first playoff appearance since 1982.

Sabathia signed a $161 million contract with the New York Yankees earlier this offseason, while Sheets remains unsigned and is weighing elbow surgery on his ailing arm.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press