Jonathan Lucroy Rumors

Central Notes: Lucroy Injury, Iglesias, Twins, Shields

The Brewers announced today that a mild right hamstring strain will cost All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy four to six weeks of action in Spring Training. Obviously, that news brings into question whether or not Lucroy can be ready for Opening Day with the Brewers. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, however, Lucroy recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his hamstring to speed the recovery process and believes he will be ready come Opening Day. The team does have a serviceable backup in Martin Maldonado, should Lucroy’s recovery take longer than expected, but even missing a few weeks of Lucroy’s bat and elite glove could be a significant detriment in what figures to be a highly competitive NL Central Division. (For more on Lucroy’s defense, check out this excellent article by Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus detailing the effect of pitch-framing not only on called strikes but on expanding a hitter’s swing profile.)

Here are a few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias, signed by the Reds to a seven-year, $27MM contract last summer, has a legitimate chance to end up in Cincinnati’s rotation, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer in looking at 10 pertinent questions facing the Reds as Spring Training approaches. Scouts in the Arizona Fall League and manager Bryan Price all raved to Fay about Iglesias’ AFL performance. “Four pitches with command — that spells out starting pitcher, especially when it’s plus-stuff across the board,” Price said. “He was 93-97, so the velocity is there. The action on his fastball is there, much better changeup than I anticipated seeing and two quality breaking balls and a good feel.” If Iglesias can indeed crack the rotation, that could be a significant boost to a team that saw both Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon depart via trade this winter.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes that he has been asked by Twins fans, and wondered himself, why Minnesota didn’t go on a Padres-like tear to restructure their roster into a win-now club. While Mackey concedes that Minnesota’s deep farm system makes it possible to have done something similar, he points out that the Padres had a lower payroll to start with than the Twins and even after their flurry of moves are now on par with Minnesota. Additionally, San Diego’s method comes with plenty of risk, as Justin Upton looks to be a one-year rental, and the team has taken the risk that Matt Kemp‘s arthritic hips will hold up, and James Shields‘ productivity will continue through age 36. Mackey looks at recent winter remakes by the 2008 Tigers and Mariners, the 2012 Marlins and 2013 Blue Jays and notes that none have been successful (though Detroit eventually emerged as a perennial contender). Ultimately, he concludes, his preference is for a long-term, sustainable run at success with a deep farm system, such as the one currently possessed by the Twins.
  • Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and several scouts were on hand today to watch Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez in the Dominican Republic, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Just 18 years old, Alvarez was clocked between 93 and 97 mph and received positive words from Fangraphs prospect/scouting guru Kiley McDaniel earlier today.
  • Though the Royals will miss Shields’ arm in their rotation, he gave them exactly what they needed at a time they needed it the most, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Shields helped instill a winning culture in the Royals’ clubhouse, bringing a “swagger and a level of confidence that we didn’t have before,” GM Dayton Moore explained to Flanagan. Shields created a belief among his teammates that they could win on any given night and orchestrated elaborate victory celebrations. Not only that, but he became a role model for young arms such as Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura“He was a tremendous help to me,” Duffy told Flanagan. “You learn so much just talking to him.” In addition to those intangible benefits, of course, the Royals got two years of excellent production and the No. 33 pick in the 2015 draft.

Quick Hits: DePodesta, Sternberg, Lucroy

We at MLBTR tend to focus on transactions, but the big news of tonight comes from Baltimore, where catcher Caleb Joseph homered for a fifth straight game. The Orioles catcher had hit just three major league home runs before his current onslaught. Last season, he did pop an impressive 22 home runs for the O’s Double-A affiliate. Prior to tonight, Joseph was hitting .220/.281/.401 on the season.

  • Last August, Mets Assistant GM Paul DePodesta discussed Moneyball misconceptions and the role of analysis in an interesting interview with Nautilus. Among the many topics, DePodesta talked about the importance of putting themselves in a position to get lucky. The Mets system certainly reflects that thought process. While the club has yet to succeed at the major league level, they are beginning to receive meaningful contributions from somewhat unexpected sources like Lucas Duda and Jacob deGrom.
  • Rays owner Stuart Sternberg doesn’t regret trading David Price despite the club’s current three game winning streak, writes Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Said Sternberg, “It really was the classic one-eye-on-the-present, one-eye-on-the-future kind of deal.” The Rays remain 10 games back in the AL East and five games back in the Wild Card race. Sternberg does regret failing to acquire a big bat after losing in the 2010 division series. 
  • Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy isn’t interested in following the Joe Mauer model, according to Tom Haudricourt. “I feel like I’d go from an above-average catcher to an average first baseman,” said Lucroy. Defensive measures rate him as among the best backstops in the game, and his current batting line (.307/.374/.493) is strikingly similar to that of Adrian Beltre. Lucroy recently missed a game with a hamstring issue, but that’s a far cry from the issues plaguing Mauer.

Brewers Notes: Lucroy, Ramirez, Nelson, Estrada

Today is Father’s Day and to celebrate MLB.com has profiled the father-son bond for one player on each of the 30 clubs. Carlos Gomez, who signed his first professional contract on Father’s Day, is featured in the Brewers’ vignette telling Adam McCalvy he wouldn’t be where he is today without his dad, Carlos Sr. “He’s the guy I owe everything,” the younger Gomez said. “He’s an example to [get an] education, be a good father, respect — and give everything I have right now. I remember the words they told me. ‘If you’re going to play ball, you’re going to play right, or not play.’” Carlos Sr. was a well-regarded second baseman and center fielder in the Dominican Republic. So, who is the better player? With the younger Gomez translating, the elder Gomez told McCalvy, “When we were the same age, 16-21, I used to be better. I used to be faster. I knew the game more than him.” Gomez, with a wide smile, retorted, “I have more tools, more ability to play. Every time we joke around, play around like that, ‘Who’s better? Who’s better?’ I say, ‘I’m the one who has almost eight years in the big leagues!’” Fathers and sons.

In other Brewers news and notes:

  • The franchise has reaped substantial dividends from their decision to sign Jonathan Lucroy to a five-year, $11MM contract extension two years ago, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lucroy, owner of baseball’s second-best batting average and slashing .333/.396/.504 entering play today, is under team control through 2017.
  • The Brewers are resisting the temptation to recall top prospect Jimmy Nelson and insert him into the rotation in place of Marco Estrada, Haudricourt reports. “Some people say bring Jimmy Nelson up and put him in the bullpen,” GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt. “But out there you don’t know how much he’ll pitch. We want him to stay sharp down there (Triple-A Nashville) in the event we need him.” The need is fast approaching as Estrada was rocked for three home runs against the Reds this afternoon and has given up 23 gopher balls – most in the Majors – ballooning his HR/9 to 2.46 (84 innings). Haudricourt notes on Twitter 35 of the 45 earned runs allowed this year by Estrada, a non-tender candidate entering his second arbitration year this winter, have come on home runs. MLB.com’s McCalvy tweets Estrada will remain in the rotation until manager Ron Roenicke speaks with Melvin.
  • It would be too big of a gamble for the Brewers to exercise their half of Aramis Ramirez‘s 2015 mutual option ($14MM with a $4MM buyout) because he’s at the age where players, even reliable and productive ones like the soon-to-be 36-year-old third baseman, start to break down physically, opines Haudricourt’s colleague, Todd Rosiak, in a recent chat. Ramirez played only 92 games last season with knee issues and has missed more than three weeks this year due to a hamstring pull.
  • The Brewers are satisfied with the first base tandem of Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay and, barring an unexpected trade, what you see is what you’re likely going to get at that position, according to Rosiak.
  • If the first-place Brewers are inclined to make any Trade Deadline deals, they could focus on strengthening their bullpen and bench, Rosiak writes.

 



Rosenthal On Rios, Pirates, Lucroy, Reds

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports posted a brand new edition of Full Count.  Here's a look at the highlights..

  • The Pirates should be in the market for a reliever, but their biggest need might be in right field where they rank last in the National League in OPS.  The White Sox's Alex Rios would be perfect and he would form an extremely athletic outfield with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.  However, Rios makes $12.5MM in each of the next two years and two other possibilities, Michael Morse and David DeJesus, are on the DL.  The Bucs are in a tricky spot because they want to improve but they don't want to disrupt their chemistry or budding farm system.
  • The Brewers will move just about anybody, but not catcher Jonathan Lucroy because they consider him too valuable to their future.  They kept suitors away last winter and this season he has full no-trade protection.
  • The Reds will stay open minded about acquiring a pitcher because of the uncertainty surrounding Johnny Cueto.  They've got Tony Cingrani to turn to, but they'll need to monitor his innings.  
  • A scout told Rosenthal that the Rays had a ton of eyes on the Rangers' farm system, fueling speculation that a David Price deal might be brewing, but that's not the case.  Price is about to return from a triceps injury and Tampa Bay is trying to win.  Barring an outright collapse, they are not even going to entertain the thought of moving the hurler until the offseason.  With that said, Texas has long had interest in Price and if/when he becomes available, they'll be at the front of the line.

Super Two Cutoff To Be 2.139

Players with at least two years and 139 days of service time will be eligible for the potentially lucrative arbitration process this offseason, according to the Associated Press (via FOXNews.com). The top 22% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualify for arbitration under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.

Nationals reliever Drew Storen, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Mets catcher Josh Thole, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin and Diamondbacks third baseman Chris Johnson are all eligible. 

Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders missed the cutoff by one day. Others, including Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, Michael Brantley, Jordan Schafer, Giancarlo Stanton, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel HudsonDan RunzlerAndrew Cashner, Alex Burnett, Esmil Rogers and Alexi Ogando, came close to super two status without reaching the threshold.

Jonathan Lucroy, whose contract includes escalators related to super two status, will fall three days short of arbitration eligibility. The difference will cost him $2MM, as I explained last month.

Super two status entitles certain players to four years of arbitration eligibility, rather than the usual three. As a result, players who earn the super two designation generally earn more than their peers. The cutoff would have been two years and 144 days under baseball’s previous collective bargaining agreement, according to the AP. In previous years the top 17% of players with between two and three years of MLB service qualified. The players and owners agreed to a new system last fall.


Jonathan Lucroy Projected To Miss Super Two Cutoff

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy projects to fall short of super two status by three days this coming offseason. It would cost him the chance at $2MM. The structure of Lucroy’s contract would change if he qualifies as a super two player this offseason, but it doesn’t look like he’ll have enough service time to earn the designation and the money that accompanies it. 

Lucroy will finish the 2012 season with two years and 134 days of service time and while it appeared that would be enough to qualify as a super two, CAA announced this morning that the cutoff now projects to be two years and 139 days. In other words Lucroy probably won’t earn the additional $2MM, according to the agency’s latest projections.

Before the season began Lucroy and the Brewers agreed to a five-year, $11MM contract that includes an option for a sixth year. The 26-year-old Sports One Athlete Management client has since posted a .322/.377/.512 batting line in 285 plate appearances. He also spent time on the disabled list with a broken hand.


NL Central Notes: Berkman, Cubs, Lucroy, Astros

The light-hitting Pirates again didn't generate much offense on Friday, scoring just one run against the Cubs.  Fortunately for the Bucs, that lone run was all they needed — five Pittsburgh hurlers (started off by A.J. Burnett's scoreless 5 1/3 frames) combined to shut out Chicago in a 1-0 result.  The Cubs have now suffered 10 consecutive losses.

Here's the latest from around the division…


NL Central Notes: Pirates, Rizzo, Lucroy

The Cubs traded Kyle Lohse to the Twins in a four-player trade on this date in 1999. Lohse, now a member of the Cardinals' rotation, is putting together a strong season as he approaches free agency. Here's the latest from the NL Central…

  • The Pirates are "laughably overdue" for some offense, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Though few trades are completed in May and more teams than ever are in the playoff race thanks to the additional Wild Card berths, Kovacevic says the Pirates must find a way to add offense. No team in baseball has scored fewer runs than the Pirates, who are averaging just 2.9 runs per game.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears that the Cubs will be patient with Anthony Rizzo and that a promotion isn’t likely this month (Twitter link). The Cubs acquired the first base prospect from the Padres for Andrew Cashner last offseason, but first baseman Bryan LaHair is hitting well at the MLB level.
  • The Brewers' decision to lock Jonathan Lucroy to an extension looks wise, Heyman writes. The 25-year-old catcher has a .342/.389/.550 batting line in 132 plate appearances this year.

Brewers Extend Jonathan Lucroy

1:49pm: Assuming Lucroy qualifies for super two status following the 2012 season the deal guarantees him $13MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. If he doesn't qualify, he'll earn at least $11MM.

11:39am: The Brewers have signed Jonathan Lucroy to a five-year contract extension with an option for a sixth year, the team announced. The deal is worth more than $11MM, though the exact total depends on whether or not he reaches Super Two status. Milwaukee's backstop is represented by Sports One Athlete Management.

Lucroy is about to start his third season in the Major Leagues. A four-year extension would cover the 25-year-old's final pre-arbitration season and three of his arbitration seasons, assuming the deal starts this year and that Lucroy obtains super two status following the 2012 season. A five-year deal that kicks in immediately would cover his final pre-arbitration season and all four of his arbitration seasons.

Lucroy posted a .265/.313/.391 line in 468 plate appearances last year, preventing 28% of stolen base attempts against him. However, the 2007 third round selection frames and blocks pitches well, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III.

Recent extensions have generally placed the value of a starting catcher's first three arbitration years in the $7-10MM range, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows. Lucroy's five-year deal falls right within that range despite his relative inexperience.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were near an agreement. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the agreement (on Twitter) while Rosenthal added details (all Twitter links).

Mark Polishuk and Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Brewers, Lucroy Nearing Extension

The Brewers are nearing an extension with catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report (Twitter link). The deal with the Sports One Athlete Management client would be either four or five years long. An announcement is expected today, Morosi tweets.

Lucroy is about to start his third season in the Major Leagues. A four-year extension would cover the 25-year-old's final pre-arbitration season and three of his arbitration seasons, assuming the deal starts this year and that Lucroy obtains super two status following the 2012 season. A five-year deal that kicks in immediately would cover his final pre-arbitration season and all four of his arbitration seasons.

Lucroy posted a .265/.313/.391 line in 468 plate appearances last year, preventing 28% of stolen base attempts against him. However, the 2007 third round selection frames and blocks pitches well, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III.

Recent extensions have generally placed the value of a starting catcher's first three arbitration years in the $7-10MM range, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows. A four-year deal for Lucroy would figure to fall on the low end of that range given his relative inexperience.

This post was first published on March 26th, 2012.