Brewers agree to terms with reliever Gonzalez
By Adam McCalvy /12/28/12 3:05 PM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Barring an unexpected snag in a physical exam, the Brewers will begin the New Year with another new bullpen arm.
Two sources confirmed that the Brewers and free-agent left-hander Mike Gonzalez have agreed to terms, with one source saying it's a one-year contract pending a physical exam. Since the team's offices are closed through New Year's Day, the deal is not expected to be finalized until the middle of next week at the earliest.
FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal was first to report the agreement on Friday afternoon, and ESPN.com's Jim Bowden added that Gonzalez will earn $2.25 million plus incentives.
General manager Doug Melvin, who typically does not discuss acquisitions until a physical is complete, would say only that, "We're closing in."
Gonzalez posted a 3.03 ERA in 47 appearances for Washington in 2012, his best ERA since his last season in the National League -- 2009 -- when he posted a 2.42 ERA in 80 appearances for the Braves.
The 34-year-old would be the third reliever acquired by the Brewers in about a month. Melvin already traded for right-hander Burke Badenhop and signed left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (two years, $5.7 million) to bolster a relief corps that ranked last in the Majors last season in relief ERA (4.66) and blown saves (29). After the season, the Brewers parted with Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras, all but starting from scratch.
Melvin mined some of baseball's best bullpens. Badenhop came from the Rays, who led the American League with a 2.88 bullpen ERA in 2012, and Gorzelanny and Gonzalez from the Nationals, whose relievers combined to rank third in the NL with a 3.23 ERA.
The Brewers have shown interest in Gonzalez before, hosting his then-agent, Scott Boras, for a pitch in the team's suite at the '09 Winter Meetings. The Brewers wound up signing right-hander LaTroy Hawkins instead, and Gonzalez signed a multiyear deal with the Orioles that winter. He subsequently pitched for the Rangers and Nationals.
This year, Gonzalez signed on with agent Dan Lozano's MVP Sports Group.
With their trio of December additions, the Brewers' bullpen has quickly taken shape for 2013. Closer John Axford is back, and Melvin has said that Jim Henderson -- a midseason callup last year who helped stabilize a group in free-fall -- will get a chance to win setup duties. Gonzalez and Gorzelanny will give the Brewers a pair of left-handers, Gonzalez with closing experience to the tune of 56 saves in 434 career appearances. Badenhop takes over the Loe role, a ground-ball pitcher for the middle innings. Brandon Kintzler pitched his way into consideration late last season.
That's six of the seven positions spoken for, leaving one for one of the pitchers who will begin camp fighting for a spot in the starting rotation.
"There's really no room for anyone else," Melvin said.
At the moment, there is no room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster. The Brewers will have to clear a spot before officially announcing his signing.