10/27/2003 5:09 PM ET
Brewers work with Jenkins, Sexson
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
The Brewers hope to keep Geoff Jenkins (left) and Richie Sexson for the long haul. (Julie Jacobson/AP)
MILWAUKEE -- The push to extend Brewers first baseman Richie Sexson's contract past 2004 is underway. Outfielder Geoff Jenkins is next.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin met with Sexson's agent, Casey Close, in New York during Games 1 and 2 of the World Series to formally begin discussions about extending Sexson's contract past 2004. Jenkins recently cut ties with agent Dan Lozano and Brewers president Ulice Payne Jr. said he expects similar negotiations to begin once Jenkins chooses representation.
Sexson is reportedly due $8.6 million and Jenkins $8.25 in 2004 in the final season of four-year contracts they signed on the same day in March 2001. They will be the biggest single-season salaries in franchise history and the Brewers want to know if either player is willing to extend; if not, the team will explore trade options.
Melvin, who will likely work with a trimmed payroll of about $35-40 million, will handle discussions with the players' agents, and Payne said he would ask permission to talk to the players one-on-one.
"I think I need to do that because they need to know our thinking with them," Payne said. "These are guys making big money. I just want them to know what our plan is, and to ask them to think about an extension."
While Jenkins suffered another season-ending injury that cut short a solid season, Sexson was baseball's iron man. He played every inning of every game, the first to do so in a 162-game season since Baltimore's Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1986.
Sexson batted .272 and tied a career-high and the Brewers record with 45 home runs. He also had 124 RBIs, one shy of a personal best and two shy of the franchise record.
"He's put up some great numbers with some great endurance and he's a wanted man," Payne said. "We heard that a lot this summer.
"I wouldn't blame him for wanting to maximize his value. I really wouldn't blame him for that. On the other hand, we think he is a special person in a special place. He is accepted, he is recognized for everything he does, and on top of that, I think we are getting better as a baseball organization. If I didn't believe that was the case, I really wouldn't blame him for leaving.
"But I think we have a legitimate request to make. He's seen Doug for a year, he's seen me for a year, he's seen Ned [Yost, the Brewers manager] for a year and he sees that things are different now."
Richie Sexson / 1B
Payne said he would get permission from Close, whose client list includes current Brewer Ben Sheets and former Brewer Jamey Wright, New York's Derek Jeter and Chicago's Kenny Lofton. After Payne took the helm in September 2003, he called Sexson following the season for an introductory discussion.
"Last fall, we were just talking," Payne said. "He was on one end of the line and I was on the other. I said, "Trust me, there will be a difference this year.' Now I can go back to him and say, 'Remember what we talked about?' We made a difference this year, partly because of him."
If the Brewers cannot work out an extension, they will entertain trade offers. First base is one of the organization's best-stocked positions, with Prince Fielder, the USA TODAY minor league player of the year, and Brad Nelson, rated the Brewers' top prospect before last season by Baseball America, developing in the minors. But neither is expected to be ready for big-league duty in 2004.
Geoff Jenkins / LF
Jenkins, meanwhile, may have more leverage because immediate outfield prospects are somewhat thin in the Brewers' system. Jenkins was batting .296 with 28 home runs and 95 RBIs when he fractured a bone in his left thumb, forcing him to miss all of September.
Jenkins, now the longest-tenured Brewer, has expressed a desire to return.
"This is the first time in a really long time that we have a good minor league system with some guys who can make an impact," he said. "You just have to wait and see what happens to them. Obviously, you don't know if they're going to all pan out, but it looks like there are some good young hitters."
Thanks in part to a "get out the vote" effort by the Brewers, Jenkins got his first All-Star berth in 2003 in the MLB.com Final Vote. He did not play in the game, but Payne said the goodwill created in July could carry over to discussions this winter.
"The way we helped get the fans to support Geoff so he could make the All-Star team, you can't just turn around and say, 'Forget it. I'm gone,' Payne said. "We want to go to both of those guys and present a case."