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.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.