The Brewers faced a similar situation in March with starter Claudio Vargas, who was to be owed $3.6 million in 2008.
"If a team comes to me and says, 'I have interest in Turnbow, but I can't take any money on my payroll,' they're asking me to eat his contract and they'll give me a marginal prospect," Melvin said. "My response is that if I have to eat his money, I want a prospect in return who is worth at least $1 million. That's why a lot of these guys don't get claimed."
But Turnbow could still be claimed, despite his significant price tag, said Melvin, especially if a team was able to clear payroll in a separate trade to make space for Turnbow.
Baseball rules barred Melvin from confirming whether Turnbow had been placed on waivers, but the deadline for such a move was Thursday. Any team that claims Turnbow would be on the hook for all of the roughly $2.5 million left on his contract, not just the league minimum, as previously reported, Melvin said, and that team would have to keep Turnbow in the Majors.
The Brewers will know by Monday whether Turnbow has cleared waivers. If he does, the 30-year-old right-hander has the right to refuse an assignment to Triple-A Nashville and become a free agent, though he would forfeit his salary if he did so.
"He has that decision to make," Melvin said. "He never said one way or the other. But he has to walk away from his money if he does [decide to decline.]"
The Brewers would not mind seeing Turnbow make it to Triple-A, where he probably would become Nashville's closer. Money isn't an issue, according to Melvin, because the reliever who essentially took Turnbow's spot on the active roster, lefty Mitch Stetter, makes the Major League minimum.
With the Brewers this season, Turnbow had a 15.63 ERA and walked at least one batter in all eight of his appearances. He saved 63 games for the team from 2004-2006 and made the 2006 All-Star team before losing the closer's job to Francisco Cordero.