Brewers trying to negotiate long-term deals with young stars, owner says

Updated: April 4, 2008, 5:01 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are trying to negotiate long-term deals with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and other young players.

"It's a work in process, the discussions back and forth," Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said Friday during the Brewers' home opener. "It'll take a little bit of time here."

Nothing is imminent, but Fielder was upset in spring training that his contract was renewed for $670,000 this season. Braun also said he didn't like it, but he understood when he was renewed for $445,000.

The Brewers, already with a payroll this season of $81 million, use a ratings system in renewing players that takes into account their performance instead of what other teams are paying their young stars.

Fielder will be eligible for salary arbitration next year and in line for a big raise after hitting an NL and franchise-best 50 home runs last year to go along with 119 RBIs. Braun was last year's NL Rookie of the Year, hitting .324 with 34 homers with 97 RBIs.

Attanasio said the Brewers also are negotiating with other members of their young core, but wouldn't identify the players because he doesn't want the talks to become a media issue.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy earns $2.65 million, second baseman Rickie Weeks makes $1,056,000 and right fielder Corey Hart was renewed for $444,000. Weeks and Hart also will be eligible for arbitration in 2009.

Brewers ace Ben Sheets is eligible for free agency after this season. Milwaukee's young starting rotation that includes Carlos Villanueva ($413,000) and Yovani Gallardo ($404,000) may also be considered for longer contracts.

"We're going to just let it play out," Attanasio said. "The media keeps asking the same questions, and we're giving them the same answers, which so far are true, which is we are still having conversations."

The only player the Brewers developed that's wrapped up in a long-term deal so far is Bill Hall, who is in the second season of a $24 million, four-year contract.

While several Brewers have team or vesting options, the only players with contracts guaranteed through at least next season are Jeff Suppan, Hall and David Riske, who signed a three-year deal worth $13 million this offseason.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press