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Shortstop Gonzalez agrees to contract with Brewers

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Associated Press
December 9, 2011
— The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez on Thursday, filling one of their biggest offseason needs.

Agent Eric Goldschmidt confirmed to The Associated Press that the Brewers’ deal with Gonzalez is for one year with a vesting option. The team didn’t immediately announce the deal, which was reported by Fox Sports earlier Thursday.


The 34-year-old Gonzalez played 149 games for the Atlanta Braves last season, hitting .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. He committed 12 errors.


He’s expected to take the place of Yuniesky Betancourt, who was acquired in the Brewers’ blockbuster trade with Kansas City for Zack Greinke last offseason. Betancourt batted .252 with 13 home run and 68 RBIs in 152 games for Milwaukee last season, and committed 21 errors.


But Betancourt’s offensive play in the postseason was a pleasant surprise for the Brewers. He batted .310 in the postseason with six RBIs, including a two-run homer in the Brewers’ NLCS Game 1 victory over St. Louis.


Betancourt is a free agent, and bringing him back was among the Brewers’ options at shortstop.


With baseball’s winter meetings wrapping up, Milwaukee appears resigned to losing free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder—especially after another prized free agent slugger, Albert Pujols, turned down big-money offers from multiple teams to agree to a $254 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.


And the Brewers’ offseason plans took a somewhat surprising turn when reliever Francisco Rodriguez accepted the team’s arbitration offer.


Rodriguez was a setup man for closer John Axford in the second half of last season, and was expected to look for an opportunity to sign a free agent deal with a team looking for a closer instead of accepting arbitration. By offering arbitration to Rodriguez, the Brewers would have been eligible to receive compensatory draft picks if he left as a free agent.


Rodriguez still could be traded to a team seeking a closer.


Barring an agreement,


Rodriguez and the Brewers—or the team acquiring him—would swap proposed salaries on Jan. 17 for a one-year, nonguaranteed contract and the case would go to a hearing the following month. The overwhelming majority of players and teams reach agreement before cases are heard by three-arbitrator panels.


The Brewers still could be in the market for a third baseman with power to help make up for Fielder’s absence, and may target Chicago Cubs free agent Aramis Ramirez.


Midseason acquisition Jerry Hairston Jr. took over for the struggling Casey McGehee at third for the Brewers late last season, but Hairston recently signed a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be paid $2.25 million next year and $3.75 million in 2013.



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