|Wednesday, December 11
Brewers have club option on Clayton for 2004
MILWAUKEE -- Shortstop Royce Clayton and the Milwaukee Brewers agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract that guarantees him $1.75 million, with a club option for 2004.
Clayton could earn up to $6 million over two years if he is a regular starter. The Chicago White Sox released him in September after he batted .251 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 112 games.
"Last year he got off to a horrible start that we don't want to talk about. But from June on he hit over .300,'' Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I have confidence in Royce's ability overall, both offensively and defensively.''
Clayton will replace All-Star Jose Hernandez, who became a free agent and wasn't offered arbitration, meaning he can't re-sign with the Brewers until May 1.
Hernandez finished the season with a near-record 188 strikeouts. Former manager Jerry Royster benched the All-Star shortstop in eight of the final 12 games to keep him from reaching Bobby Bonds' major league season strikeout record of 189.
Clayton, always known more for his defense than his offense, said his slow start last season will motivate him to come on strong in Milwaukee.
"I think I would be less of a competitor if I didn't have an attitude of ... being successful and showing people they were definitely wrong in their assessment of Royce Clayton,'' he said.
Melvin, as the Texas Rangers' general manager, signed Clayton in 1998.
"We felt unless we got a shortstop who could make the plays, we weren't going to win. We ended up acquiring Royce Clayton,'' Melvin said. "He did make the difference.''
Clayton said his previous relationship with Melvin in Texas helped him decide to sign with Milwaukee.
"I think this organization is heading in the right direction. They have a number of young players who are capable of throwing up tremendous seasons,'' he said.
Clayton, though, seemed realistic about the team's prospects next year. The Brewers finished last season 56-106, easily the worst record in the franchise's 34-year history.
"I love to set lofty goals, but you don't say I'm going to guarantee a pennant by me coming over here. But I'm going to break my neck trying,'' he said.
Clayton gets a $1.5 million salary in 2003 and can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses: $100,000 each for 375, 400, 450, 500 and 550 plate appearances.
Milwaukee has a $2 million option for 2004 with a $250,000 buyout. The option price increases to $2.3 million if he has 375 plate appearances the previous year, $2.5 million if he has 400, $2.7 million if he has 450, $3 million if he has 500 and $3.3 million if he has 550.
He can earn the same performance bonuses in 2004, and would get an additional $200,000 if he has 1,000 plate appearances in the two seasons.
Clayton has also played for the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. He was named to the All-Star team in 1997 while with the Cardinals.
Milwaukee also agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Joe Lawrence.