As expected, the Brewers have declined their 2011 options on three veterans: Trevor Hoffman, Doug Davis, and Gregg Zaun.
Hoffman gets a $750,000 buyout rather than the $7 million option after losing the closer job early in the season and posting the worst ERA of his Hall of Fame career at 5.89. At age 42 he may opt to retire with a record 601 career saves.
Davis receives a $1 million buyout in place of a $6.5 million mutual option. He came back from a heart condition and elbow problems to start eight games for the Brewers, but posted a 7.51 ERA and underwent elbow surgery last month that puts his 2011 status in serious doubt.
Zaun gets a $250,000 buyout instead of a $2.25 million option after missing nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury that required surgery in June. Zaun has indicated that he plans to play in 2011 at age 40, but will likely have to accept a minor-league contract and shot at a backup job.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.