PHOENIX -- According to a report, David Stearns may be mulling another first in his tenure as Brewers general manager: His first contract extension.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said the Brewers recently "floated" a proposal to infielder Jonathan Villar with a financial guarantee in the neighborhood of $20 million over an undisclosed term. According to Heyman, Villar "passed for now."
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Villar, acquired from the Astros in November 2015 in Stearns' second trade, is coming off a breakthrough in his age-25 season. He ranked 16th among qualified National League hitters with a .369 on-base percentage while leading the Majors with 62 stolen bases.
The Brewers are moving Villar to second base this season so Orlando Arcia can take over at shortstop and newcomer Travis Shaw can play third. Villar is on track to be arbitration-eligible following the 2017 season, putting him on track to be eligible for free agency at the end of 2020.
Stearns, who rarely speaks publicly about contractual matters, declined to comment on Heyman's report.
Counsell on intentional walk rule
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he had a meeting with Major League officials on Wednesday, and among the topics were pace of game measures. According to reports, the four-pitch intentional walk will be replaced this season by a manager signaling from the dugout.
"We can find ways to improve, always," Counsell said. "You always have to be cognizant of this issue. Dead time is not good time for anybody. That's the time that is right to look at eliminating."
But, he added, "We have to be aware that we can't change the course of the players' competition."
Gennett staying busy
Posted on a digital board in the Brewers' clubhouse is a schedule for players' early defensive work, and only one name is listed five days a week. Scooter Gennett is on the field daily at 8 a.m., as he prepares to move around the diamond after three-and-a-half years almost exclusively at second base.
Now, Gennett is not seeing that familiar position at all.
"We've spent time at third base and the outfield. Right now, that's where he's splitting his time," Counsell said. "It's a coordinated effort to get him as much exposure to those positions as we can. Later in spring, we'll try to get him back to second base. But for now, it's the new things ahead of him."