All of a sudden, after two years of sticking with Jason Kendall, the Brewers look like they're ready to make a move behind the plate. Frankly, it's about time. Earlier this week, Doug Melvin told Arn Tellem (who represents Jason Kendall) not to expect a $5 million offer to return to the Brewers next season. That's a lot nicer than what I would have said, but I'm ok with any steps taken to imply Kendall won't be starting 130+ games for the Brewers again next season.
At the same time, Jonathan Lucroy is having a very nice run in the AFL after an impressive season in Huntsville (where he hit .267/.380/.417), and Doug Melvin is starting to speak publicly about the possibility that Lucroy could make the jump directly to the big leagues next season. Melvin has compared Lucroy to Russell Martin, Chris Snyder and Kurt Suzuki, who all made the jump directly from AA to the majors at catcher, and did so with some level of success.
Now, it's possible Melvin is just posturing, as he's been known to do in the past: In January, for example, Melvin said the Brewers were out of money, then signed Braden Looper less than two weeks later. It's entirely possible that Melvin is raising the possibility that he'll go forward with the assets he has in an effort to get Kendall to lower his asking price, at which point the two sides will agree to a deal and I will probably vomit. Any to-do list for this offseason should include the following line: "Do not re-sign Jason Kendall, at any price, for any role."
With that said, I'm not sure Jonathan Lucroy is the answer either, at least not yet: He's 23 years old, but he's had just two full seasons as a professional. Yes, he's posted a .380 career minor league OBP, but he's also never played above AA. And while he is hitting pretty well against elite competition in the Arizona Fall League, we have to be careful not to put too much weight into what happens down there: Lucroy is hitting .366/.364/.585, but the AFL is one of the most hitter friendly places on Earth, with a .281/.357/.441 league average. Also, Lucroy's AFL numbers cover all of 42 plate appearances, so there's a sample size issue.
- Two years, $6 million base salary, club option for third year at $5 million, $500k buyout.
- $250,000 incentives each season for starting 80 and 100 games, and $500,000 for starting 120.
- Option year vests if Torrealba starts 200 or more games in the first two seasons of the deal.