Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and his agent reportedly came to the Brewers prior to the start of Spring Training to discuss an extension. MLB.com writer Adam McCalvy spoke to Lucroy about the extension proposal prior to the Brewers game versus the Indians last night.
“It was a proposal that would have kept me here for the rest of my career, most likely,” Lucroy said. “We gave it to them in early January, and when we got to Spring Training, they informed us they weren’t interested in doing anything at this point in time.”
Lucroy’s current contract with the Brewers is very friendly for the Brewers. He is currently the 9th highest paid Brewers player, making just over three-million this season. Right before the 2012 season started, Lucroy signed a five-year $11 million dollar deal with the team. The Brewers also hold a team option on Lucroy for the 2017 season, another reason why this is such a good deal for them.
Now I know the Brewers aren’t always the greatest with contracts, especially the deal they gave Rickie Weeks after his career season that occurred in 2010. He received a big extension that made him one of the highest paid Brewers. This leads me into my first thought on why the Brewers said no to the Lucroy extension.
1: Did the Brewers learn?
I think the Brewers are playing this one safe. Especially since they have 100% flexibility over Lucroy’s contract until 2018. Lucroy had a career year during the 2014 season in-which he finished fourth in the National League’s MVP voting. You can see why Lucroy wanted the extension, but the Brewers backed off for the right reason to me. Rickie Weeks is known to get injured, and he wasn’t always the greatest player that the Brewers paid him to be. Lucroy also has a tendency to get hurt a lot, so the Brewers may be looking to see if Lucroy’s career year was a fluke or not – something they didn’t with Weeks. I am totally okay with this.
My second thought is similar to the first, dealing with money reasons. I think however that the Brewers may not be as open to other players making a ton of money on their team. Besides Ryan Braun, of course, because starting next year he gets that juicy 100 plus million dollar extension money to start coming in. Bare with me if you don’t understand I will break it down.
2: Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems for the Brewers
Let’s go back to 2007 and 2008. Ryan Braun comes up to the big leagues, wins rookie of the year, Prince Fielder has another great year coming off his 50 home run season, and of course, Doug Melvin and the Brewers pull off the block buster CC Sabathia trade. Ben Sheets’ contract also came off the books. All I think of when I think about the 2008 Brewers compared to the 2009 is nothing but gigantic dollar signs. CC Sabathia received a five-year $100 million dollar offer from the Brewers, but of course when you get an extra $61 million over two years more from the Yankees, you’re going to take it without a doubt.
Ben Sheets is the other pitcher the Brewers had on the market that year, who was also considering signing with the Yankees as their was interest from the Yankees and Sheets according to old reports. He didn’t get an offer in free agency then, leaving him without a team. This was smart for the Brewers in away because once Sheets was able to land on a Major League Roster with the Oakland Athletics for a one-year $10 million dollar deal, things went down hill for Sheets from there. Most teams didn’t want Sheets due to his injury history, and the Athletics learned that when he suffered a torn flexor in his throwing elbow during July 2010, forcing him to miss the rest of the 2010 season. This was a smart move not to re-sign, but as a fan favorite I would’ve liked to see him stay. He might have even stayed cheap as well.
Fast forward to 2011. The best Brewers season in nearly 30 years. Brewers fans everywhere wanted to win the World Series so bad that year. The reason why the want for the Brewers first World Series title was so strong was because of the Brewers evil friend. Mister money. Star pitcher Zack Greinke, who was acquired by the Brewers in another block buster trade Doug Melvin made was a free agent in 2012, who was traded away before July 31st in 2012 because the Brewers knew they didn’t have the cash to sign him long-term, and star first baseman Prince Fielder, who at the time had played every year of his career with the Brewers. Everyone in baseball knew Fielder wasn’t coming back to the Brewers. Man, him and Ryan Braun were a treat to watch.
The Brewers made a one-year offer to Fielder during his free agency off-season, but it was no use because Fielder signed a massive nine-year $214 million-dollar deal with the Tigers. After just two years of that contract, the Tigers shipped him off to the Rangers, where he is back to his Milwaukee days playing alongside Yovani Gallardo. I don’t think the Brewers will ever get the money to pay someone over $150 million. As for Greinke, his contract came to and end the next year following Fielder’s, but this time the Brewers already traded away the player they new they couldn’t sign. He signed with the Dodgers on a six-year $147 million-dollar contract. Again, a contract I won’t think the Brewers will ever get to offer or pay.
Most Brewers fans are already under the assumption that when Carlos Gomez’ contract is up at the end of the 2016 season, he is also going to leave the Brewers. Is baseball’s need for a salary cap a perfect example at what happens to the Brewers? Yes, but that’s not the point. If the Brewers give Lucroy over $15 million per year if they do meet on an extension, him and Ryan Braun will take up over 30 percent of the Brewers pay roll. Sign Carlos Gomez again? You then now have 50% of your pay roll spent up on three players. None of which are pitchers, something the Brewers need the most.
The morale of the story is, the Brewers don’t want to use money to lock-up players. If Doug Melvin remains Brewers general manager, will he continue to sell the farm after new draft picks are finally ready to play? Will he also dish out more prospects for block buster players that won’t sign and take the Brewers not even to the World Series?
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