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Brewers cool on saves leader Hoffman

Brewers cool on saves leader Hoffman

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LAS VEGAS -- The Brewers fell off the list of teams interested in all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman on Wednesday, leaving left-hander Brian Fuentes as the only top free-agent closer in the club's sights.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spoke for the second straight day with Rick Thurman, who represents both Fuentes and Hoffman. He planned to call Thurman back in the evening to say that he would not make Hoffman an offer.

Fuentes, though, remains an option.

"We haven't made that decision yet," Melvin said.

The Brewers need a closer to replace Salomon Torres, who emerged as a solid option last May but retired after the season. Milwaukee was quite interested in free agent Kerry Wood, but Wood was a physical exam away from finalizing a two-year deal with the Indians.

Fuentes' asking price appears to be the sticking point for the Brewers. The Brewers believe he wants a three-year deal at an average annual value somewhere between Wood's deal with the Indians (reportedly $10 million per season) and Francisco Rodriguez's with the Mets ($12.3 million per year).

If the Brewers move on Fuentes, they would face competition from National League Central-rival Cardinals and perhaps the Tigers and Angels. Cards manager Tony La Russa identified Fuentes as his team's top target.

"From Day 1, he's been the guy that fit us the best," La Russa said.

Fuentes has saved 111 games for the Rockies over the past four seasons, including 30 saves in 2008 to go with a 2.73 ERA. He is 33.

Hoffman, meanwhile, turned 41 after the season. Melvin hesitated when asked what factors turned the Brewers away from Hoffman.

"He's a Hall of Famer," Melvin said. "It's hard to be critical of him."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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