Axford, Brewers both want multiyear deal
Brewers closer John Axford was quick to explain why he’s the only member of the 40-man roster yet to sign a 2012 contract.
“Just like last year, I’m holding out for billions,” he joked.
Good luck. Axford is due a raise in his final year as a so-called “zero to three player,” those short of the Major League service time necessary to qualify for arbitration, partly because the Major League minimum salary bumped from $414,000 to $480,000 in 2012 under the new collective bargaining agreement (Axford earned $442,500 in 2011). But the delay in his case is more likely related to the fact that Axford is a candidate for a contract extension. He will be “Super 2” player next winter, and projects to reach free agency following the 2016 season.
Both sides say they have interest in a multi-year deal. Assistant general manager Gord Ash characterized talks between the club and agent Dan Horwits as “exceedingly cordial.”
“Those discussions are possibly out there, so it’s really a matter of getting to a point where we both agree,” Axford said. “If a multiyear deal worked out, that is something I would love. I’d love the security. I love Milwaukee, I’d love to play there as long as I could. I would love to begin my career there and end my career there, in all honesty.”
Teams and their zero-to-three players have until March 2 to reach terms for 2012. If a player remains unsigned as of that date, the team may “renew” his contract at the salary of its choice. For more than a decade, the Brewers have paid such players according to a non-negotiable scale that takes into account statistical achievements and awards.
Ash sees the sides first setting a one-year deal in place and then continuing extension talks throughout the month of March.
“We’ve had discussions through the winter, and obviously we haven’t made any progress but we’re still way ahead of schedule,” Ash said.
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