Despite reports from Tom Haudricourt last night that the Brewers were unlikely to make a selection in this morning’s Rule 5 draft, Doug Melvin added another arm to what’s quickly becoming a crowded bullpen.
The Brewers selected left-handed pitcher Chuck Lofgren in the Major League phase of the draft (Adam McCalvy has the story and reactions). Lofgren, a former top pitching prospect in the Cleveland system, at the very least figures to factor into the LOOGY discussion in spring training. By rule, he must be added to the 40-man roster, and if the Brewers don’t keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2010 season, they’ll have to return him to Cleveland.
Lofgren was a 4th round pick in 2004, and after starting his career with a bit of momentum in the low minors, quickly ran into a wall upon reaching Double A. Last season in Triple A, he was 6-10 with a 5.31 ERA in his 17 starts. While he may not have much of a future as a starter anymore, he should at least help against left-handed hitters out of the bullpen, and possibly serve as the team’s long reliever.
The pick was a bit of a surprise, considering the recent free agent splurge (Claudio Vargas, Randy Wolf, LaTroy Hawkins) and the addition of Lofgren would put the Brewers three players above the 40-man limit. Add in the fact that it looks like Craig Counsell may be returning, and the Brewers will have to shed at least four players off the 40-man by next week.
If non-tendering Seth McClung wasn’t a given with the Hawkins signing, it probably is now. Who else is on the chopping block, though?
Mark DiFelice can be removed from the 40-man by being placed on the 60-day DL, so he’s a safe bet. Chris Smith could also easily go, and the Brewers may consider dropping Tim Dillard from the roster, as well (if not by releasing him, then as a trade throw-in). Other players that could possibly be in danger are Omar Aguilar and Carlos Villanueva, and possibly one of George Kottaras and Mike Rivera, who are made expendable by the Gregg Zaun signing.