3/20/2014 8:15 P.M. ET
Segura focuses on baseball, not contract
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid indications the Brewers were beginning an effort to sign him to a long-term contract extension, shortstop Jean Segura said Thursday that he was trying to keep his focus on the field.
"It's good things, but for me, I don't like to put those things in my head," Segura said. "I just want to be able to focus on my game and getting ready for the season."
The just-turned 24-year-old, acquired from the Angels as part of a July 2012 trade package for right-hander Zack Greinke, made the 2013 National League All-Star team in his first full Major League season. Segura batted .294 with 12 home runs, 49 RBIs and a team-high 44 stolen bases, and both sides have expressed interest in exploring an extension.
It was unclear Thursday whether the Brewers and Segura's agent, Joe Klein, had graduated from the exploratory phase to exchanging proposals. General manager Doug Melvin's policy is to not comment on active negotiations, and Klein did not immediately return a telephone message.
The Brewers have struck similar agreements in recent seasons with players like catcher Jonathan Lucroy, pitcher Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Ryan Braun, in which the player gains financial security and the Brewers get cost certainty. For such a deal to make sense from the club's perspective, it typically must cover at least one free-agent season. In Segura's case, that would require at least a four-year extension on top of his current one-year contract. At the moment, he is on track to be eligible for salary arbitration following the 2015 season and is eligible for free agency following the 2018 season.
Klein first revealed last year that the Brewers had made a first offer, but those talks never progressed. He met with Brewers officials in Milwaukee in September, and the sides resolved to resume discussions this spring.
"We're always open to [extension talks]," Melvin said last month. "We've locked up some, some we didn't. We didn't get Prince [Fielder]. We offered him a deal earlier on to buy into free agency, but it just depends what players want. Not a lot of them want long-term deals that will take away free agency, and we like to get deals that have at least a year of free agency if we can."
The further challenge for both sides will be choosing the proper precedent for a middle infielder with between one and two years of Major League service. Last July, the Astros signed second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year, $12.5 million extension that covers Altuve's arbitration seasons and includes a pair of club options that could cover two seasons of free agency. If those options are exercised, Altuve would earn $25 million over six years, or an average annual value (AAV) of $4.17 million. But Segura plays the premium position of shortstop, so his camp may point to last month's agreement between the Braves and Andrelton Simmons, who received a seven-year, $58 million contract that covers all of the Gold Glove winner's arbitration seasons plus two free agent seasons. Simmons' deal has an AAV of $8.29 million.
The Simmons comparison is clouded by the fact he had enough service time to potentially qualify for an extra year arbitration had he not signed long-term. With one year and 65 days of service entering this season, Segura's arbitration status is clearer.
Segura did not set a firm Opening Day deadline for talks to be resolved, but said once the season begins, he will not seek any updates.
"I don't want to get distracted from the season," he said.
Wang surrenders first spring runs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- That Wei-Chung Wang stepped to the plate for the first time this spring in a bunt situation was a disappointment to the Rule 5 Draft pick. He wanted to show Brewers coaches he could hit.
"I was thinking to maybe fail to bunt twice," Wang said through his translator, Jay Hsu, "and then I can hit."
He was joking, of course. Wang dutifully sacrificed the runner to second base, conquering one of the challenges he faced in his latest bid to bolster his chances with the Brewers. The 21-year-old is trying to win a spot in Milwaukee's bullpen after pitching last year in rookie ball.
Wang still has not walked a batter this spring, but he surrendered his first three earned runs on five hits including a home run in 2 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Thursday.
"I don't want those happening during the season," Wang said. "But if it's happening right now, I can get ready to face it."
Said Manager Ron Roenicke: "Again, he's throwing strikes. He makes them earn what they have, and that's great."
He admitted feeling nervous before his first spring start. "Good," said Roenicke. "Nobody's that cool." But he has mostly appeared poised this spring. There is little or no precedent for a pitcher jumping all the way from Rookie ball to the big leagues, but that is what Rule 5 Draft procedures require in this case, lest the Brewers offer Wang back to the Pirates.
"If we're looking to try to win this year, to have a guy who wouldn't really be functional would be tough," Roenicke said. "This guy, hey, this guy could get a lot of outs for us. You never know. He could end up being a guy in the bullpen who's really good."
Earlier this spring, Wang compared the challenge to swimming across the ocean from his home in Taiwan. Later, he said he was starting to see signs of land, but was surrounded by sharks.
Now, as other prospective Brewers pitchers are returned to Minor League camp and Wang remains, he's hopeful.
"The sharks are less and less," Wang said.
Braun sits out with illness
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun sat out a second straight game Thursday because he was ill, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Braun, who is batting .476 (10-for-21) through his first 10 Cactus League games, could return to action Friday in Surprise, Ariz., against the Rangers. He stretched with the team on Wednesday morning but was not scheduled to take batting practice.
"Hopefully, tomorrow, he's back in there," Roenicke said.
Outfield prospect Mitch Haniger started in Braun's place against the Rockies.
• Matt Garza will make a second straight start in Minor League camp Sunday because he preferred not to face the NL Central Division-rival Reds. That means Garza will not get an opportunity to face big league hitters until the Brewers host the Royals in Milwaukee at the end of next week.
• Roenicke said the Brewers were still deciding how to line up the pitching rotation after Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse start the first two games of the regular season. One scenario under consideration has the team carrying only four starters for the first week and a half, which would allow for an extra bat in Interleague Play at Boston on April 4-6.
"I don't think that's the way we're planning right now, but things could change," Roenicke said.
• The Brewers released 13 Minor League playersThursday including one-time relief prospect Santo Manzanillo, who was not the same after injuring his shoulder in a November 2011 auto accident in the Dominican Republic. He posted a 5.83 ERA in 46 games last season between Class A advanced Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville.
Also released: pitchers Jonathan Armold, Eduard Reyes, R.J. Seidel, Taylor Wall and Alan Williams; catchers Brent Dean and Tyler Roberts; infielders Adam Giacalone, Jalen Harris, Renaldo Jenkins and Jesse Weiss; and outfielder Ben McMahan.