Trevor Hoffman re-signs with Milwaukee

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers

Trevor Hoffman agreed to a deal to stay with the Milwaukee Brewers today, receiving a $2 million salary bump to $8 million. Doug Melvin credited Trevor Hoffman with being the Cal Ripken of pitchers, so it’s no surprise an accord was reached so quickly.

I’ve heard some criticism for the deal, given that it’s $8 million less for Milwaukee to spend on its starting pitching. I disagree.

Hoffman certainly is unlikely to post a 1.83 ERA again, lowest since 1998. However, there’s no reason to think he won’t save 37 — the number he racked up this year — again. There’s also no reason to think he will turn into Brad Lidge circa-2009. For a competitive club like Milwaukee, you need a dominating closer. Hoffman is that closer.

The Brewers will have a very busy season ahead with many players (including Prince Fielder) eligible for arbitration. As a result, they’re currently only projected for $47 million in guaranteed contracts, a year after checking in with an $80.2 million payroll.

The payroll is there to bring in help for starting pitching, plain and simple — especially if the Brew Crew trade or non-tender J.J. Hardy, who made $4.65 million this year and won’t get a massive paycut, if he even gets one. Other possible non-tenders include Dave Bush and Seth McClung.

Again, the money will be there. But you can’t win games in this day in age without a closer. You can’t hope to make the playoffs without a good closer. There’s something to be said for starter’s peace of mind knowing when they turn the ball over to the bullpen, they won’t blow it.

Resigning Hoffman, to me, is rather logical.

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  1. mb21 said...

    The guaranteed contracts and last season’s payroll are a bit misleading.  The Brewers have 7 or 9 guys who are arbitration eligible.  That $47 million is only 7 players or so.  They have a bunch who are arb-eligible who are going to see some kind of a raise.  Even if we just take those 7 players, they have to add 18 others and have $33 million to do it in order to match the 2009 payroll.  Add in the arb-eligible increases and it’s probably down to $25 million for another 10 players.  They need a CF and a catcher and they need at least 2 starting pitchers.  They also have to hope that McGehee didn’t just have a fluky season. 

    I feel like we should hold off praising this signing or criticizing it until we at least know how much money the Brewers have to spend because they don’t have as much as has been implied here. 

    All of that said, I have no problem with an $8 million deal for Hoffman.  On its own it’s a really good deal.

  2. Evan Brunell said...

    I’d be very surprised if they didn’t deal Hardy to fill one of said pieces. That chops around 4.5 mil off the payroll assuming they acquire a minimum-salary replacement—probably a starting pitcher.

  3. Evan Brunell said...

    I definitely do not dispute that Hardy is a good player and I believe he will bounce back. That said, the Brewers need to be fiscally conscious, and they have Escobar at the league minimum for the next two, maybe three years. That’s worth something, not just WAR.

    In addition, you’re forgetting Hardy would bring value back. Who’s to say that Escobar plus what they get for Hardy will be worse—WAR-wise—than Hardy? And maybe for a fraction of the cost.

  4. mb21 said...

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see them deal Hardy either, but that’s not a wise decision on their part.  Hardy was worth 9+ WAR in 2007 and 2008 combined.  He had a terrible 2009, but unless there’s some sort of injury that would lead us to think he’s just completely lost it, there’s no reason to think he won’t improve significantly on his 2009 season.  At $4.5 million and the likely 3.5 to 4 WAR you’d have a great contract.  What can Escobar do?  Probably around 2 to 2.5 WAR so although you’re freeing up a little money, you’re also worsening your team and creating additional money that needs to be spent to fill that void.

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