With their shortstop’s price tag likely increasing by the day, the Brewers have pitched Jean Segura and agent Joe Klein a long-term deal that could take the 23-year-old through his arbitration years and into free agency.
Segura, named the NL’s Player of the Week on Monday, is batting .368/.412/.588 with six homers and 13 steals in 136 at-bats this season. He leads the NL in average and steals, plus he’s tied for first with three triples. The Brewers acquired him from the Angels last summer in the Zack Greinke deal.
“They contacted me,” Klein told FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. “Right now, I guess it’s in my court. But with a guy this young, it’s hard to figure out what the right numbers would be.
“It would be good, be nice if it was possible to do. But I don’t know. It’s way, way on the drawing board.”
Assuming that he doesn’t spend any more time in the minors, Segura will be eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and free agency after 2018.
It’s rare for players with so little service time to sign long-term deals. Fellow shortstops Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro and Alcides Escobar all had over a year in when they got their long-term deals. The Rays’ Evan Longoria signed a few days after reaching the majors, and he was a huge bargain on a six-year, $17.5 million contract that included options for his first three seasons of free agency. Royals catcher Salvador Perez agreed to an astonishingly low five-year, $7 million deal after 39 big-league games. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, of course, just signed a seven-year, $41 million contract while possessing a bit more than a year of service time.
A reasonable deal for Segura would be worth about $25 million through his arbitration years. Any free agent years after that would probably cost at least $10 million apiece. Rizzo gave up his first year of free agency for $11 million.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.