David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that 1B/3B/OF Eric Hinske has decided to return to the Atlanta Braves, rather than sign with the Brewers. The dollars are still unknown, but it’s apparently a one-year deal with an option for a second.
This probably isn’t a huge loss from the Brewers’ perspective, since he only would have been a bench player, but it’s always a bummer when a good, cheap bat is interested in coming to Milwaukee and the team loses out. As both teams are currently constructed, Hinske probably stands a better chance of playing more in Atlanta. Some stability will probably be nice for him, too, considering the Braves were his fifth team in four years. It’s hard to fault the guy for choosing the familiarity of Atlanta over starting from scratch with a new team, even if it is his hometown club.
It’ll be interesting to see where the Brewers go from here. Were they interested in Hinske because they saw him as a stopgap solution to a future hole at third or first? Or were they just looking for a solid bench guy who could play multiple positions and possibly replace Joe Inglett as the go-to pinch hitter? Tonight’s non-tender deadline may provide some more options that could fill a similar role, although it may be hard to find a bat of Hinske’s quality for a price as low as his. For the time being, Inglett is probably breathing a sigh of relief — Hinske not joining the club probably saves him from being non-tendered tonight.