Brewers non-tender NL HR champ Carter

Brewers non-tender NL HR champ Carter

MILWAUKEE -- Unable to find a trade partner for slugger Chris Carter, the Brewers on Friday took the expected, but nonetheless unprecedented, step of non-tendering a reigning league home run champion.

The Brewers had designated Carter for assignment earlier in the week after signing free agent Eric Thames, a player coming off three monster years in Korea who costs less than Carter and fills a need as a left-handed hitter. GM David Stearns spent the rest of the week trying to trade Carter before Friday's 7 p.m. CT deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

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"We had activity up until the deadline. There were points we thought we were going to get a deal done, but ultimately we were not able to," Stearns said. "The result of that is a non-tender."

Carter was Stearns' only Major League free-agent acquisition last winter, and hit 41 home runs in 2016 to share the National League lead with Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. On Friday, Stearns spoke briefly via telephone with Carter, whom the GM lauded for his professionalism.

"The fact that it's never been done before makes it feel a little odd," Stearns said. "But ultimately, we think that the series of transactions we've been able to make over the past two weeks will benefit our club going forward.

"Chris did a really nice job for us this year. He was a really valuable member of our team. I have no doubt that he is going to be a productive Major League player and that he will land on his feet with another organization."

Carter, who turns 30 on Dec. 18, is now free to sign with any team.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.