Brewers avoid arbitration with Gennett, Nieuwenhuis

Brewers avoid arbitration with Gennett, Nieuwenhuis

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers avoided arbitration with second baseman Scooter Gennett and outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis with one-year deals, tendered contracts to five other arbitration-eligible players and cut loose first baseman Chris Carter on Friday.

Gennett signed for $2.525 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility and Nieuwenhuis will earn $900,000 in the Major Leagues, according to reports from MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The Brewers also tendered contracts to pitchers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg and Carlos Torres and catcher Martin Maldonado, all of whom are essentially signed for 2017, at a salary to be determined in arbitration if both parties can't reach an agreement.

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Carter, meanwhile, is a free agent.

Brewers non-tender Chris Carter

Both Gennett and Nieuwenhuis were considered by some at risk of being non-tendered, since some Brewers officials like the idea of Jonathan Villar at second base, and because Nieuwenhuis is one of nine outfielders on the 40-man roster. General manager David Stearns declined to say whether Friday's agreements avoided that outcome.

"I'm happy that both of those players are still Brewers," Stearns said. "We worked with both of their representatives to keep them in Brewers uniforms, and look forward to their production going forward."

Gennett received an above-slot signing bonus after the Brewers made him a 16th-round Draft pick in 2009, and he has been in the Majors since 2013, serving as Milwaukee's primary second baseman in each of the past three seasons. He hit a career-high 14 home runs in 2016 and was more effective against left-handed pitchers, but does not possess the positional versatility favored by manager Craig Counsell.

Gennett's sterling defense

But he is a left-handed hitter, as is Nieuwenhuis, an asset the Brewers are seeking this offseason. Nieuwenhuis compiled a .732 OPS against right-handed pitchers in 2016 and a .526 OPS against lefties, making him a potentially effective platoon partner with right-handed-hitting center fielder Keon Broxton.

Nieuwenhuis (sports hernia) and Broxton (broken arm) were both injured on Sept. 16 at Wrigley Field and were sidelined the rest of the season, except for one Nieuwenhuis at-bat in the final game. Counsell had said Nieuwenhuis would require a minor surgical procedure to repair the injury.

Stearns said the Brewers were focused at the moment on one-year contracts for Anderson, Peralta, Thornburg, Torres and Maldonado. If any of those players remain unsigned in February, their salaries could be set by an arbitration panel in a hearing.

In another roster move Friday, the Brewers outrighted reliever Steve Geltz, whom they just claimed via waivers on Nov. 28, to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Geltz has the right to refuse the assignment.

To clear a roster spot for the acquisition of Geltz, the Brewers had designated power-hitting prospect Adam Walker, another recent waiver claim. Walker on Friday was claimed by the Orioles.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. 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.