With Prince Fielder scheduled to become a free agent after the 2011 season, the Brewers had three options this offseason:
The Brewers could remain passive players on the free agent market, instead focusing on trading away some of their more expensive pieces (Suppan and Hart) in the effort to increase their payroll flexibility and perhaps even make an offer to Prince Fielder
The Brewers could try to trade Fielder for the best package they could get their hands on and try to build around Ryan Braun, Alcides Escobar, Yovani Gallardo, Mat Gamel, and whatever prospects they could get in return for Prince. This would have greatly increased their payroll flexibility, but probably would have cost the Brewers in the short term.
The Brewers could make an aggressive play for some of the top free agents on the market, hoping to build around Prince Fielder now while they have him under contract. This option could be very beneficial in the short term, but hurt the Brewers in the long term if they are saddled with long term deals and therefore, cannot sign Prince Fielder.
Today's moves by the Brewers confirm that they are indeed going for it in 2010. By signing Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, Brewers management is giving the club the best chance possible to win now. As a fan, it's tough not to like what the Brewers are doing. Sure these moves have a significant risk attached to them, but GM Doug Melvin is clearly thinking that he has a small window with which to work with and despite his limited resources, he's doing all he can to make the Brewers winners over the next two years. Kudos to Melvin for not allowing the Fielder extension to prevent him from making moves, but I am skeptical about the long term implications of Randy Wolf a three year contract.
Then again, there is no reason to think that the Brewers cannot make a significant run in the National League Central this season. The division looks weak on paper and if there was ever a time for the Brewers to go for it, the time is now.