Brewers’ Mark Attanasio: Renovation talks in ‘early innings’

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio offered a reminder that negotiations were still in the “early innings” as he discussed legislation on financing renovations to American Family Field.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issued a proposal this year to spend $290 million on repairs to American Family Field under an agreement in which the Brewers would extend their lease by 13 years, through 2043.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last month the proposal was likely dead in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Vos expressed optimism that Republicans could come up with a better deal that would require a longer commitment for the Brewers to stay in Milwaukee.

“I think the fans deserve a facility like this and I think one of the reasons they come out is the ballpark experience,” Attanasio said Monday before the Brewers’ home opener with the New York Mets. “So we really just want to continue to maintain that. And look, I want the team to be here forever. So, we want this to be forever a special place.”

The Brewers’ lease expires in 2030. American Family Field has been the Brewers’ home stadium since 2001, when it was known as Miller Park.

“Other stadiums of similar vintage, they’re talking about needing brand-new ballparks, and here we just want to continue to maintain this,” Attanasio said. “So, we’ll see. It’s early innings, and I guess there’s a lot of baseball to be played. I don’t know if we got off to as good a start as we got off to this weekend in Chicago, but we’re off to a pretty good start.”

The Brewers opened their season by winning two of three games from the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Attanasio also addressed the contract status of 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, two-time All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff and shortstop Willy Adames, who has been selected team MVP by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America each of the last two seasons.

All three players have one more year of arbitration eligibility before they could become free agents at the end of the 2024 season.

“I’m always eternally optimistic,” Attanasio said. “I also recognize that the three of them are about as good as you can get in the sport at their positions. And so there’s the challenge of what those contracts would be. They’d be deservedly significant, and we’ll just take it, it’s pretty much a season at a time now because most guys don’t want to talk in season. We’ll see what the season and the offseason bring.”

They’re not the only notable Brewers facing uncertain futures. Craig Counsell, the NL’s longest-tenured active manager, has a contract set to expire after this season. Counsell has one son playing college baseball at Minnesota and another who has committed to play at Michigan next season.

Attanasio said that “we’d love to keep him here, obviously.”

“He’s had a couple World Series rings (as a player), got now two sons going to play college baseball, you’d always imagine you’d be watching them play,” Attanasio said. “They’re only going to be playing college baseball once.

“So on the other side of things, he’s really enjoying what he does here. And he is, as you know, very impactful. I think back to when I first talked to Craig about doing this in 2015. He said the only thing he felt he had left to do in baseball was bring a World Series to Milwaukee. And so that’s still a goal of his, so we’ll see how he balances all of that.”

Attanasio spoke to Brewers beat reporters for the first time since the team sent four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres at last year’s trade deadline.

The Brewers were leading the NL Central at the time of the trade but staggered afterward and finished seven games behind St. Louis and one game out of the NL’s final wild-card spot, snapping a franchise-record string of four straight playoff appearances.

“There was a lot of commentary last year about the Hader trade, which we all know,” Attanasio said. “But what was missed in the commentary is we’re desperately trying to compete for a long period of time. And so we stumbled last season with that trade, but now we have (catcher) William Contreras here. Things like that show the confidence I have in our baseball ops group to keep finding that next guy.”

The Brewers acquired Contreras – a 2022 All-Star – from Atlanta as part of the multi-team trade that enabled the Braves to land catcher Sean Murphy from Oakland.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.