Brewers close to signing Riske

The Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt is reporting on his blog that the Brewers are close to adding free agent reliever David Riske, an unrestricted Class B free agent, with a 3-year deal totalling at least $12 million in base pay.
Riske, 31, has spent 8 years in the majors, strictly as a reliever, and exclusively in the American League. Riske posted a 1-4. 2.65 ERA, 52 K’s and 27 BB’s over 69.7 IP last year with the Royals, with a 1.26 WHIP. Riske, a righty, posted a 2.21 ERA before the All-Star break, and cooled down with a 2.79 ERA after the break. He also earned 4 saves in 8 opportunities, and had a road ERA last year of 3.34. Riske’s ERA last year was his lowest since his 2.29 ERA with the Indians in 2003.
Securing Riske before the Winter Meetings means that Doug Melvin can now be a bit more open to the idea of dealing Derrick Turnbow. The 2008 bullpen is now shaping up to look like:

  1. Derrick Turnbow (assuming he doesn’t get dealt)
  2. Guillermo Mota
  3. David Riske
  4. Brian Shouse
  5. Seth McClung
  6. Matt Wise OR Carlos Villanueva OR Dave Bush
  7. Greg Aquino or ?

The biggest impact of adding yet another pitcher for the bullpen is that it opens up more trade possibilities for dealing Chris Capuano, Dave Bush, and Claudio Vargas. With Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan, and Yovani Gallardo almost assured of spots in the rotation, plus Carlos Villanueva and/or Manny Parra for one or both rotation spots, Capuano, Bush, and Vargas could all go. I think Vargas is almost certainly gone, due to him being arbitration eligible; Capuano would be, too, had his market value not taken a nosedive last year.
The signing would also mean that there would be little chance that the Brewers would use their first-round Rule 5 draft pick on a pitcher, instead looking more for a utility infielder to replace Tony Graffanino. More likely–they’ll draft and trade like last year.
Doug Melvin has a lot of unwanted pitchers he can deal…now’s the time to stock up the farm system.

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