Axford, Brewers will keep talking

The Brewers renewed closer John Axford’s contract for $525,000 on Saturday but will continue discussions about a multiyear contract extension, assistant general manager Gord Ash said.

Friday marked the start of a 10-day period in which teams could “renew” contracts for unsigned, pre-arbitration players at a salary of the club’s choosing. For more than a decade, the Brewers have paid such players according to a set scale that applies bonuses above the Major League minimum salary for statistical achievements and awards.

When the renewal period began, Axford was the only member of Milwaukee’s 40-man roster yet to agree to a deal. Sometimes, players with zero to three years of service, and thus subject to the system, disagree with the club’s system and get upset when they’re renewed — think Prince Fielder a couple years ago.

But that Axford and agent Dan Horwits forced a renewal was not necessarily a sign of acrimony but rather an indication that neither side wanted to give in amid negotiations toward a longer-term contract, one that would cover some of all of Axford’s upcoming arbitration seasons. He will be eligible as a “Super 2” player starting next winter and will have four seasons of arbitration-eligibility.

Both sides have expressed a desire to strike a deal.

“That is something I would love,” Axford said earlier in the week. 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.”

UPDATE at 12:20 p.m. MT: Here’s what Ash had to say about Saturday’s development:

“You would have to ask Dan Horwits and John why they chose renewal over agreement,” Ash said. “We to have our zero-to-three formula, and clearly he is at the top of that heap given his performance to date. It’s a significant raise [from the $442,500 Axford earned last season]. It’s not a big deal to me. It’s the placeholder that we talked about. We’ve agreed that in a week to 10 days, Danny will be here and we will meet face to face and see where that takes us.”

Ash said Axford’s 2012 salary makes him one of the highest-paid players in baseball with one-plus years of Major League service. Axford has one year, 170 days accumulated — two days shy of qualifying for two full years.

“We’re satisfied the [salary] number is very fair,” Ash said.


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