Villar content with lack of extension

Brewers infielder headed for salary arbitration with team

March 3rd, 2017

TEMPE, Ariz. -- said Friday that he was at peace with his decision to pass for now on a contract extension, and expressed no hard feelings after the Brewers were forced to renew his 2017 contract when the sides couldn't agree on a salary figure.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported last week that the Brewers had approached Villar's representatives with an offer in the $20 million range, presumably covering all three of his arbitration years and taking him to free agency. Instead, Villar, the Major League leader with 62 stolen bases during a breakthrough 2016, is on track to be arbitration-eligible following this season.

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"I can wait for arbitration," Villar said.

Villar is represented by Melvin Roman of MDR Sports Management. That agency negotiated at least two extensions for pre-arbitration players, according to MLB Trade Rumors' extension tracker database: 's four-year, $27.5 million deal with the Cardinals in 2011, and 's five-year, $21 million deal with the White Sox in 2014.

Was it a hard decision to pass?

"No," Villar said. "In my house, I feel good. I'm comfortable. … I told my family [about the offer], and they told me, 'It's up to you. If you want, fine. If no, no.' I can wait for arbitration."

Like many clubs, the Brewers employ a mathematical formula to compensate their pre-arbitration players. Most times, the players agree, but when they do not, the club is empowered to renew the contract at a salary of its choosing.

Villar earned $512,900 last season, or $5,400 above the league minimum, which jumped this season to $535,000. Villar's 2017 salary is not yet known.

More Brewers notes

• Manager Craig Counsell is still early in the process of setting an Opening Day lineup. Among his most pressing questions, the manager said Friday, is who to bat second. The candidates include and Villar, who have hit there this spring, and newcomers and , who have yet to.

"I'm looking for offensive production from that spot," Counsell said. "I'm not looking for hit-and-run ability out of that spot, if you know what I mean."

Production from the second spot will help three-hole hitter , Counsell added.

"We focus a lot on protection after," Counsell said, "but the best way to protect Braun is to have runners on base when he's hitting."

• Utilityman Ivan DeJesus survived a scare against the Angels when he was struck in the neck by the baseball during a stolen base attempt. Counsell and head athletic trainer Dan Wright tended to DeJesus, but he remained in the game.