Have the Milwaukee Brewers finished their offseason shopping, as modest as it has been?
After signing free agent reliever Tom Gorzelanny, general manager Doug Melvin said he might "dabble a little bit" in the remaining bullpen market but also suggested he might be done.
Melvin spent the first part of the offseason deconstructing a bullpen that finished last in the major leagues in 2012 with a 4.66 ERA and with 29 blown saves. He allowed Francisco Rodriguez and Livan Hernandez to leave via free agency, outrighted Jose Veras and Kameron Loe from the 40-man roster and did not tender a contract to left-hander Manny Parra.
The only major league moves Melvin made to refill those gaps were a trade for Tampa Bay reliever Burke Badenhop and the signing of Gorzelanny. That duo will be added to returning closer John Axford, setup man Jim Henderson and in all likelihood Brandon Kintzler, if healthy.
Those pitchers would fill five of the expected seven spots in the bullpen. Barring other moves between now and spring training, Melvin is willing to fill the other spots with pitchers from the system, a pool that includes hard-throwing Johnny Hellweg, Josh Stinson and Jesus Sanchez, a new addition to the 40-man roster.
Others who will compete for jobs are offseason acquisitions Michael Olmsted and Arcenio Leon. Melvin noted that a pitcher who doesn't win a job in the rotation also could land in the bullpen. A candidate there could be Mark Rogers, who is out of minor league options and would not be exposed to waivers.
"We have some young guys we want to look at," Melvin said, "and we want to keep some flexibility (to make future moves)."
Despite paring about half of their $100 million payroll from 2012 by allowing players to leave, the Brewers have been very conservative in their spending this winter. It appears the plan is to lower the payroll considerably for next season, perhaps below $80 million.