The Yankees were the only other team by midday Friday known to have made a concrete proposal (reportedly six years in the neighborhood of $140 million), with reports of coming interest from other teams, most notably the Dodgers and Giants. Sabathia, to some extent, has his pick of the league after a fabulous second half with the Brewers in which he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA.
"We haven't heard from them," Melvin said, referring to Sabathia's agents, "and they haven't heard from us. So that's where we stand."
Melvin last heard from agents Greg Genske and Brian Peters on Nov. 12, just before the free-agent market opened to all teams (for the first 15 days following the World Series, teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents). That call, Melvin said, was merely a courtesy to inform the Brewers that Sabathia would entertain offers from other clubs.
Since then, the Brewers and Sabathia's reps have been not so much at a standoff as at a standstill. That's likely because Genske and Peters are waiting for all of the interested teams to jump in, and are unwilling to tell the Brewers that their offer is not good enough until Sabathia has made his choice. He is an accomplished hitter who enjoyed his stint in the National League after a July trade from Cleveland, seemingly giving the Brewers, Dodgers, Giants and other NL suitors an advantage over the free-spending, American League Yankees. But he also is a California native who might prefer to play on the West Coast, a factor, along with the finances, that could help push Milwaukee out of the running.
Genske and Peters have not returned phone calls seeking comment. Neither has Sabathia, his publicist and even some of his close friends in the game, including Brewers reliever David Riske, who played with Sabathia in both Cleveland and Milwaukee.
In the meantime, the Brewers have to wait. Club officials spent part of the day Friday scouring other teams' Minor League rosters for next month's Rule 5 Draft.
"That's just the way it is," Melvin said. "The players, and really it's their representatives, they're the ones who control the schedule."
Melvin said the Brewers are going forward with other offseason plans and have had fleeting contact with a handful of other free agents. They are also having internal discussions about potential trading partners in anticipation of the Winter Meetings, Melvin's next opportunity to talk to other GMs face-to-face.
But it's difficult for Milwaukee to move forward on either the trade or the free-agent fronts until Sabathia provides some sort of answer, because that decision would set in place how much payroll flexibility Melvin will enjoy for the rest of the offseason.
The Brewers' primary offseason needs are starting pitching (Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both free agents) and left-handed bats (today, the only regular starter who hits lefty is first baseman Prince Fielder).
"I continue to touch base with clubs," Melvin said. "I talk to other free agents. There's not a lot of activity for us from a free-agent standpoint right now, but we know what we are capable of doing and what we're not capable of doing."
Melvin downplayed the impact of Sabathia's decision on the Brewers' other plans. Some have wondered though, whether the team might consider trading a player like Fielder, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time, for front-line pitching if Sabathia spurns Milwaukee's offer.
"I don't think there are any pitchers available in trade," Melvin said. "There may be a pitcher traded here or there, but there's no one of [Sabathia's] caliber. So that doesn't affect what we're doing."
At least there are no top-flight pitchers available to the Brewers. San Diego's Jake Peavy is the most accomplished pitcher being bandied about the trade market, but Melvin said the Brewers are not on the teams for which Peavy would waive his no-trade clause.
Melvin's comments also would seem to close the door on the rumors that have swirled for some time about San Francisco's Matt Cain. Fielder and shortstop J.J. Hardy have both been mentioned as possible tools to pry away Cain.
"I can't talk about players on other clubs, but I read where [the Giants] said they aren't moving him," Melvin said. "Other than that, I can't comment."