Brewers manager Yost on Sabathia: 'A rumor's a rumor'

MILWAUKEE -- If the Brewers are considered a front-runner in the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes, manager Ned Yost wanted nothing to do with it on Friday.

"A rumor's a rumor," Yost said before Milwaukee's game with Pittsburgh. "We don't pay attention to it too much."

According to recent reports, Milwaukee's surplus of minor league talent has given the organization an upper hand in the competition to acquire Sabathia. The reigning AL Cy Young winner is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA in Cleveland.

"He'd be a great addition to this team," Brewers third baseman Bill Hall said. "Any time you get a Cy Young guy in your rotation, it's going to make your team better. I'm sure everybody in here would love to have the guy in our rotation."

The Los Angeles Dodgers are also said to be interested, according to Foxsports.com. But the Dodgers also have an eye toward Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, a deal that would require some of the same players as a Sabathia trade would, the Web site reported, attributing unnamed sources.

Milwaukee scouts have watched Sabathia pitch several times this season and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that director of pro scouting Dick Groch saw the lefty throw again on Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.

Asked where Sabathia could be slotted in the rotation, Yost was quick to reply.

"Sabathia's not on our team," he said.

But maybe soon.

The Brewers are extremely deep, especially at the Double-A level, with 10 prospects named to the All-Star team in the Southern League alone from Double-A Huntsville. None of those players comes with more buzz than Matt LaPorta.

LaPorta, the former slugger at Florida selected with the seventh overall pick last season, is hitting .291 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs in 82 games coming into Friday. Other top teammates in Huntsville include slick fielding shortstop Alcides Escobar (.331 average in 84 games) and third baseman Mat Gamel (.381, 15 homers, 75 RBIs in 84 games).

It's unlikely that the Brewers would let two of those three go in any deal, and it's unclear whether the organization would have a legitimate shot at signing Sabathia, a free agent after the season.

The Brewers brass had a long meeting in Phoenix on Thursday, but declined to reveal what was discussed. Players in the clubhouse after Friday's win were well aware of Sabathia's reputation.

Sabathia, one of the premier power pitchers in the game, went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA last year. He rejected a $72 million, four-year extension from the Indians during spring training and announced he wouldn't negotiate any deal until after the season.

The Brewers starting pitching has been thin ever since Yovani Gallardo went on the disabled list with a torn knee ligament that required surgery. Brewers ace Ben Sheets is easily off to the best start of his career, but the righty is in the final year of a $38.5 million, four-year contract and hasn't wanted to talk about his upcoming free agency.

The Brewers' experience on the trade market last year burned them, too. General manager Doug Melvin acquired setup man Scott Linebrink for three pitching prospects, including highly touted Will Inman.

Linebrink went 2-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games, never solidifying the bullpen situation as much as hoped for. He bolted to the White Sox in free agency, giving the Brewers two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Milwaukee, which last made the playoffs in 1982, has the fourth-best record in the NL right now, but are looking up in the NL Central at St. Louis and Chicago.

They play four games at St. Louis just after the All-Star break and have a four-game series against the Cubs at Miller Park at the end of July.

"You try to position yourself so you're within striking distance at the end of the month when you play the Cubs here," Yost said.

But he cautioned that any trade would have to make sense.

"I don't worry about it," Yost said. "I worry about what's in that clubhouse and until somebody steps in that clubhouse it's not a factor for me right now."