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Delivering a strikeout pitch
Melvin's offering to Texas can't bring trade for Gagne
By TOM HAUDRICOURT
Posted: July 31, 2007
If a no-trade clause actually meant "no trade," the Milwaukee Brewers believe they would have acquired reliever Eric Gagne from Texas before the non-waiver deadline Tuesday afternoon.
Texas sent Gagne to Boston after the veteran closer dropped his no-trade clause to that team in exchange for the Red Sox guaranteeing an additional $2.5 million to cover incentives in his contract. That agreement raised Gagne's pay for 2007 to $9.85 million.
"If it was a strict no-trade, then we would have had a better chance," said general manager Doug Melvin, who was told the Brewers were the fall-back position if the Red Sox and Gagne couldn't reach an understanding (the New York Mets were told the same thing).
Melvin, who acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from San Diego last week, jumped in hard on Gagne on Monday after the Rangers called to gauge his interest. Melvin wouldn't say how Gagne might have been used but figured another high-quality arm couldn't hurt an overworked bullpen.
After Melvin exchanged ideas with Texas general manager Jon Daniels Monday night and again Tuesday morning, a proposed deal was reached. The Brewers would send outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., left-hander Zach Jackson (9-7, 4.69 earned run average at Class AAA Nashville) and another minor-leaguer to the Rangers for Gagne.
"We had a deal on the table," Melvin said. "We didn't want to bid against ourselves but we were prepared to up our offer. (Daniels) told me, 'We're seriously considering your offer.' We thought we had a chance.
"When he didn't come back and ask for more, that's when I got the feeling (Gagne) was going to Boston. At 2 o'clock they called us and said Gagne had approved the deal to Boston. I had anticipated that was a possibility.
"We said, 'If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't.' "
The Brewers were not on Gagne's no-trade list and therefore he could not have stopped a deal to Milwaukee.
"That's where no-trade clauses don't mean that much," Melvin said. "Usually they'll waive them if there's some form of compensation."
Melvin noted that Gagne's agent, Scott Boras, has several clients playing for Boston. Boras was quoted as saying Gagne "wanted to be in a playoff environment," ignoring the fact that both the Brewers and Mets were in first place and Boston had to cough up an extra $2.5 million to make the deal.
To get Gagne, the Red Sox sent left-hander Kason Gabbard and minor-league outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre to the Rangers.
"They got two players they're putting in the big leagues," said Melvin, referring to Gabbard and Murphy. "They did a nice deal."
Melvin said missing out on Gagne would have been more disappointing if not for the acquisition of Linebrink from the Padres.
"We got a pitcher we really like in Linebrink early on," said Melvin, who indicated that he had no other serious trade talks before the deadline. "We'd be more disappointed if we didn't get Scott earlier."
Manager Ned Yost admitted that trades often can energize a team. And the Brewers certainly were sagging after a brutal 2-6 trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis that included four last at-bat victories by the opposition.
But Yost said his players must look within to pull out of their slide.
"The tendency in a locker room, especially at this time, is to start screaming for help," Yost said. "In reality, we need to look at each other and realize this is the team that needs to get it done.
"We've got the talent here to do it and we need to do it ourselves. You can't be looking outside that locker room for help to come get it done."