Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee didn’t get a multi-year contract extension, but he vowed to be a happy Spring Training camper anyway.
McGehee, the team’s lone unsigned player, agreed to a one-year deal for 2011 on Wednesday.
“I want to be a Milwaukee Brewer for as long as I can,” McGehee said. “It just wasn’t the right time for me. … There’s no reason to be [upset]. Now I can just play baseball, and that’s really all I want to do.”
McGehee earned $427,500 in 2010 and led the Brewers with 104 RBIs. He’s on track to be eligible for arbitration for the first time following the 2011 season, and will not be a free agent until the 2014-15 offseason at the earliest.
Under general manager Doug Melvin, the Brewers have locked a number of their young players into multi-year contracts that buy out arbitration seasons (Brady Clark, Derrick Turnbow, Prince Fielder) or cover arbitration seasons plus a year or more of free agency (Ben Sheets, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks). They exchanged proposals for an extension with McGehee’s agent, Barry Meister, but McGehee said those talks never progressed to the brink of an agreement.
“I was hopeful,” he said. “My first goal is to take care of my family. You’re always hopeful you can work something out. But by no means did I feel we were on the cusp of doing it.”
McGehee’s 2011 salary was not disclosed, per club policy. The Brewers pay players with zero to three years of Major League service according to a set formula that accounts for statistical achievements and awards, and McGehee earned $40,000 on top of the usual salary for a player with his level of service.
Wednesday marked the beginning of a 10-day renewal period during which clubs could assign their unsigned pre-arbitration players a 2011 salary. By agreeing with McGehee, the Brewers have all of their 40-man roster players under contract.
The sides could always revive talks about an extension for McGehee. Last year, the Brewers renewed right-hander Yovani Gallardo’s contract on March 4 because they were not able to reach an agreement with agent Bobby Witt, then announced a five-year extension on April 8.
“We’re always open to that [but] I’m not big on doing things in the season,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “
Said McGehee: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m under contract to play for this year and the ball is not really in my court. It’s time for me to go play baseball, and if the subject comes up in the future, obviously I’d be more than willing to listen. We’re all adults, and we can all understand either having a difference of opinion or this not being the right time. I don’t take it personally, and I don’t think Doug takes it personally.”
He made it clear he’s uncomfortable talking about business.
“I want my focus to be what’s going on on the field,” McGehee said. “With the type of team we’ve got, I want my focus on that. I don’t want something lingering. I’m happy to have this over with, I guess.”
McGehee picked Meister as his agent last fall. Meister also represents Brewers infielder Craig Counsell.