The Milwaukee Brewers pursued free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, even told his agent, Dan Lozano, that they were willing to consider giving him a four-year deal.
But the team shifted direction after its talks with Rollins stalled at the winter meetings, ultimately signing two free agents – shortstop Alex Gonzalez and third baseman Aramis Ramirez – instead of one.
Lozano was busy negotiating for free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols during the meetings. The Brewers, though, never were sure that Rollins, 33, wanted to play for them after spending his entire 11-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gonzalez, 34, and Ramirez, 33 were more eager to join the team.
“They showed legitimate interest in playing for us,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “We sat down and said we can have both of them instead of waiting on Jimmy.
“In a market like ours, you can’t sit and wait for free agents. You’ve got to try to read and react. Some of it is a feel for agents. Some of it is gut instinct. But we can’t and sit and wait like other clubs. When a player of talent becomes available, you have to react quickly.”
The Brewers’ four-year interest in Rollins, if relayed to the Phillies by Lozano, might have prompted the Phils to pursue their own alternative strategy during the meetings – signing Ramirez and trading third baseman Placido Polanco.
But with the Brewers signing Gonzalez and the Cardinals signing Rafael Furcal, the Phillies again loom as a strong favorite to keep Rollins. A four-year deal would appear a logical compromise between Rollins’ five-year desire and the team’s three-year preference.
Ramirez signed a three-year, $36 million contract with Milwaukee. He will earn $6 million in 2012, $10 million in ’13 and $16 million in ’14, with a $4 million buyout on a mutual option for ’15. His third-year salary includes $6 million deferred.