Crew avoids arbitration with all 3 eligibles

Crew avoids arbitration with all 3 eligibles

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers avoided arbitration with all three of their eligible players ahead of the Friday deadline by agreeing to one-year contracts with shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Wily Peralta and Will Smith.

Smith will earn $1.475 million in 2016, according to a Yahoo Sports report, and Segura settled at $2.6 million, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Peralta's salary was not immediately known, but for the Brewers, the bottom line was this: For the fourth straight year, they will not need to take any players to an arbitration hearing.

"Sometimes hearings are necessary," said GM David Stearns, who has extensive experience in arbitration as an employee of both various clubs and the Commissioner's Office. "In this case, we were fortunate we were able to settle with all three. That's the preferable outcome, when you can get there."

Two of Stearns' deputies, director of baseball operations Karl Mueller and manager of baseball operations Matt Kleine, handled negotiations with the players' representatives. Those discussions, Stearns said, never went beyond one-year proposals.

Asked whether extension talks are possible with any of the trio, Stearns said, "We're always exploring those types of opportunities. A one-year deal does not preclude going back later and talking about it if both sides are interested."

Had any of the three players remained unsigned as of noon CT on Friday, the sides would have formally exchanged one-year contract proposals and begun preparing for an arbitration hearing in February. The Brewers have only gone all the way to a hearing five times, most recently in 2012 with reliever Jose Veras.

Smith was arbitration eligible for the first time as a "Super 2" player because he ranked among the top 22 percent of players with between two and three years of Major League service. His salary nearly tripled thanks to that status, from the $512,500 he earned last season while posting a 2.70 ERA in 76 appearances.

Smith will have three more years of arbitration eligibility before he qualifies for free agency. Peralta and Segura will have two more arbitration years apiece.

Segura, who turns 26 on March 17, was expected to draw the highest salary all along by virtue of spending the past three seasons as Milwaukee's starting shortstop, including an All-Star appearance in 2013. His production has dropped off, however, in the past two seasons, during which he has hit a combined .252/.285/.331. He'll get competition as soon as this season from top prospect Orlando Arcia, who is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Peralta, 26, was the Brewers' most valuable pitcher in 2014 but made only 20 starts in 2015 because of a ribcage strain. He is 35-37 with a 4.02 ERA in 90 career games, including 89 starts, and is a contender to start the Brewers' April 4 season opener against the Giants.

Smith, 26, is positioned to play a critical role in the Brewers' bullpen in the wake of a trade that sent closer Francisco Rodriguez to Detroit. With K-Rod out of the picture, Smith and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress are the Brewers' most likely closer options for 2016, with another right-hander, Corey Knebel, also in the mix. Manager Craig Counsell has not publicly committed to any of those players as a leading candidate.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.