Updated at 1 p.m. CT with Parra’s salary: $1.2 million, plus $50,000 for making the All-Star team.
The Brewers stuck a record $15.5 million, one-year agreement with first baseman Prince Fielder and also signed left-hander Manny Parra, leaving three players still eligible for arbitration.
Fielder will earn the highest single-season salary in Brewers history, $2 million more than is due organizational newcomer Zack Greinke in 2011. He’s entering his final season of Brewers control before reaching free agency.
“It’s a big number. We’re expecting Prince to go out there and have a big year,” said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who handled negotiations with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras.
“He’s had some big years in the past for us,” Melvin said. “He led the league in walks last year, and I think he showed an unselfishness in that regard by taking walks and maybe sacrificing some of the power. If you go by what he’ done, he’s had a very good year and then an off-year, then a very good year and a little bit of an off year. So if you go by that docket, he’ll have a very big year for us [in 2011].”
SI.com’s Jon Heyman was first to report Fielder’s salary figure, and also reported that Fielder would earn $100,000 for winning National League MVP honors, $75,000 for runner-up and $50,000 for third place, plus $50,000 for being elected to start the All-Star Game or $25,000 for being selected by National League manager Bruce Bochy or the players. Fielder would also get $25,000 for winning NL Championship Series MVP and $50,000 for World Series MVP.
Fielder earned $10.5 million in 2010 while slugging through what was by his own very high standards a down season, batting .261 with 32 home runs, 83 RBIs and an .871 OPS. He’d driven in 141 runs with a 1.014 OPS the year before.
Earlier last year, Melvin was engaged with Boras in talks about a multi-year contract for Fielder, but those discussions did not progress. They focused exclusively on a one-year agreement in recent weeks, according to Melvin, who could not say whether the multi-year talks could be re-opened now that a 2011 contract is in place.
“We haven’t addressed that,” Melvin said. “And if we did, we wouldn’t comment.”
Parra will earn $1.2 million in 2011, plus $50,000 for making the All-Star team. He earned $440,000 last season and was 3-10 with a 5.02 ERA, bounced to the Brewers’ bullpen for the third consecutive season. Parra did find some success in relief, with a 2.39 ERA in 26 appearances. He struck out 2.73 batters per walk as a reliever, versus 1.83 strikeouts to walks in his 16 starts.
With Fielder and Parra in the books, the Brewers have three players still eligible for arbitration: Second baseman Rickie Weeks, starter Shaun Marcum and reliever Kameron Loe. Tuesday was the date on which teams and their unsigned players swapped proposals for one-year contracts.
“We’re going to have to file terms with some of them,” Melvin said ahead of that afternoon deadline.
After figures are exchanged, the next step in the arbitration process is a hearing date in February, a conclusion the Brewers hope to avoid. The sides can continue negotiating until that date, and in the vast majority of cases around baseball, they reach an agreement somewhere between the filing figures.
Fielder was not the Brewers’ only key player eligible for arbitration. Weeks ($2.75 million salary last season) is the starting second baseman, is coming off a career year and, like Fielder, is on a path to reach free agency after 2011. Assistant GM Gord Ash has been talking with Weeks’ agent, Greg Genske, about a multi-year deal.
Marcum ($850,000) is coming off a career year with the Blue Jays and will fit with Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo atop Milwaukee’s starting rotation. He missed all of 2009 following Tommy John elbow surgery but rebounded to go 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in the tough American League East. He was Toronto’s Opening Day starter last year.
The Brewers are open to multi-year talks with Marcum at some point, but for now are talking about a one-year agreement, Melvin said. Brewers negotiator Teddy Werner is handling those talks with agent Jim Turner.
Loe, who drew on a $650,000 salary during his four months in the Majors, developed into a key Brewers reliever, posting a 2.78 ERA in 58 games beginning June 1.