SAN DIEGO -- The Brewers have one opening on their 40-man roster, but they don't currently intend to fill it with a bullpen arm. General manager Doug Melvin believes the vacancies can be filled later in the offseason.
Melvin said so on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings after watching relievers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson sign two-year contracts with the Astros.
"I'm going to wait on the relievers," Melvin said. "I was in Spring Training [earlier this year] and we had signed Zach Duke to a Minor League contract, and Pat Neshek was calling and he didn't even have a contract yet. [Duke] signed a Minor League contract at the end of January, [Neshek] in February. Now they both got $12-$15 million. I'm not saying I'm always looking for bargains, but I don't know if there's any bargains at this time."
So the Brewers will wait. Assistant GM Gord Ash has had a series of meetings this week with representatives for free-agent pitchers, but Melvin suggested those talks would lead to lesser deals.
"It's more on the Major League invite level," Melvin said. "We're not giving 40-man roster spots at this point."
The Brewers have four spots accounted for in a bullpen headlined by closer Jonathan Broxton, who is due $9 million in 2015 with a $2 million buyout of a '16 option. Left-hander Will Smith and right-handers Brandon Kintzler and Jeremy Jeffress are also penciled in, with young right-hander Jimmy Nelson a possibility to join the mix if the club doesn't trade a starting pitcher before the start of Spring Training.
Milwaukee does not intend to engage agent Scott Boras about bringing back closer Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 44 games last season. In free agency, he could earn a contract that pays a per-season salary similar to Broxton's, and that wouldn't work for a Brewers team already looking at a projected payroll above $100 million.
"You're looking at $18 million for your setup and closer?" manager Ron Roenicke asked. "We're not the Dodgers. That's what it comes down to. Frankie had a good year, but because of where we are, I don't know how we bring him in for that number."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.