Posted by Steve
The Brewers seem to be continuing their trend of extending their young players before they reach arbitration today, inking Jonathan Lucroy to a four or five year deal. Full details are yet to be released, but to be honest, I have time to do this now, so I’ll go ahead and post on it anyway.
My initial reaction, even before seeing the money: I don’t really get it. I have to think eventually one of these deals are going to come back to bite the Brewers. Gallardo and Braun (the first contract, at least) are one thing. Lucroy is another. He’s not an elite talent, and he has yet to post a season in which he was even average offensively.
He was the seventh-most valuable position player on the Brewers last year (checking in behind Carlos Gomez, who barely had half the plate appearances of Lucroy.). Lucroy’s 1.7 in 478 plate appearances is much less impressive than George Kottaras‘ 0.8 in just 123 plate appearances.
Now I’m not saying that Lucroy is a bad player, or even that Kottaras should be starting (though I wish he’d play more; his bat is seriously undervalued), but I’m just saying this all adds to my confusion about this extension. Few players have done less to earn a lengthy extension than Lucroy has done to this point.
It can’t totally be about defense. Sure, Lucroy is solid defensively when compared to Kottaras, but both catchers are well behind Martin Maldonado defensively. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see Maldonado in Milwaukee this season, but you’d think they’ll make room for him by next season for sure. This deal seems to lock in Lucroy as the starter, but what if Maldonado passes him up? Then this contract doesn’t look so smart.
I’m sure the money will be nothing alarming; it will most likely just take him through his arbitration years, but the Brewers are still assuming more risk than they need to. Like I said, this is a great move with elite players like Yo and Braun. But was Jonathan Lucroy really going to break the arbitration bank? Nope, and that’s why I don’t really understand this one.