Now that the Ryan Braun mess is settled (at least when it comes to knowing whether or not he’ll be on the field to start the year), the Brewers can turn their attention to other matters. According to Mark Attanasio, those matters include discussing extensions with Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke.
If it seems a little early to be talking about a possible extension for Roenicke — after all, he’s only been on the job for one year — it’s important to remember that he only signed a two-year contract with an option for a third year when he got the job. Without tacking on a couple more years to his current deal, Roenicke runs the risk of essentially becoming a lame duck if things don’t go well this season. If the two sides go into the season without a deal in place and the on-field results are disastrous, picking up Roenicke’s option for next season doesn’t seem like it would be a lock. At the very least, it would be tough for justify to many Brewers fans.
For that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising (at least to me) to see Roenicke’s option for next year picked up, even if the Brewers aren’t able to negotiate a long-term extension for him this spring. At least that way, the two sides could continue to negotiate without risking the lame duck situation. A division title and 96 wins last season could make picking up the option early an easy decision, and it’s a benefit Ken Macha never had when he was on a similar contract. Macha’s first season in 2009 was a disappointment, the Brewers never seemed interested in picking up his option for 2011, and he went through 2010 with questions about his fate surrounding him. Roenicke’s successful first year (at least when it comes to the team’s W-L record) should help him avoid that awkwardness.
An extension for Melvin seems a bit more cut-and-dry. He’s on the last year of a three-year extension he signed following the team’s last postseason appearance in 2008. It’s hard to imagine many people objecting to another three-year deal for Melvin if that’s the route the organization wanted to go. Melvin will turn 60 this August and will mark 10 years with the Brewers in September, but hasn’t shown any indication of wanting to slow down. The past couple seasons have seen a massive overhaul of the team’s roster, but that’s nothing compared to the rebuilding project that could be on his hands the next few seasons if he finds 3/5 of his starting rotation moving on after 2012. At least from Melvin’s perspective, the extension talks are coming along at a good time, when he was quite a bit of leverage and is seeking security over what could be some rocky years.
Last week on 620 WTMJ, Melvin mentioned that he would basically map out the future of the organization once Attanasio stopped by camp. Those “maps” would determine how the club would deal with the impending free agency of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, potential extensions for other young players, and apparently, now the futures of Roenicke and Melvin himself. Attanasio is in camp now, so it may be safe to assume that those talks are going on now, although knowing these two, the media probably won’t hear anything until things are just about finalized.