With the trade deadline a little over a week away, one big question around the Brewers is whether they would genuinely be willing to trade catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Instead, perhaps we should start thinking what a contract extension would look like for the 2014 All Star.
Appearing on 105.7 FM, Lucroy received the following question from host Tim Allen: "You, at this point in your contractual situation here Jon, there hasn't been any talk of extension, has there?"
Here's Lucroy's response, which you can also listen to here:
"Uhh (chuckles), you know, not really. There was some -- heh, if you're going to ask me, I gotta tell the truth -- there was some, a little bit of talk earlier in spring training, but that didn't really go anywhere. It was just because of the fact that I had a lot of time left on my contract. So it was just one of those things where it didn't really get to that point. So a little bit, but not much. We're kind of just waiting to see what happens down the road."
Lucroy, of course, does have a fair amount of time left on his current contract. The 29 year old is signed for just $4,000,000 in 2016 with a team option for $5,000,000 in 2017 that will surely be picked up barring any unforeseen events in the next year and a half.
That kind of deal is already a steal for Lucroy, who is regarded as a very good defensive catcher and one of the best pitch-framers in the game. He's also one of the better-hitting backstops in the game, posting a .297/.359/.472 batting line from 2012-14 and leading the league with 53 doubles last year.
What's extremely interesting about this, is the Brewers said just this past winter that they were unlikely to pursue extensions with players in spring training anymore after it appeared to be a distraction for Jean Segura prior to the 2014 season. Here's the quote from Doug Melvin, courtesy of the Journal Sentinel:
"I don't think we'll do [extension talks] in the spring anymore," said general manager Doug Melvin, whose quiet winter meetings continued Wednesday. "I've talked to (principal owner) Mark (Attanasio) about it. It's disruptive. You've got to do it before spring training.
"I do think it was a distraction for Segura. You're around all the players (in camp) and they talk about it. I just think the focus on spring training is important to get ready."
I think you can look at this two ways. Melvin may have meant that he didn't want to discuss contract extensions with younger players at that point of the season. Veterans like Lucroy might be better equipped to handle talks without it impacting their performance. Or, the Brewers might just like Lucroy that much that they were willing to forgo any new team philosophies in an effort to see if something could get worked out. There's always exceptions to rules, this just might be one of those cases.
And, of course, we don't know who approached the other side first about an extension. It's possible the Brewers stuck to their new no-extension-talk-in-spring modus operandi and it was Lucroy and his agent who asked about a new extension. That would offer Lucroy -- who will be 31 when his contract is up -- further monetary security down the road and at a much better rate than he's receiving through 2017.
We also don't know exactly how far talks got. From Lucroy's quote, the best guess is it was a very brief, very informal talk and one side or the other said that it was something better discussed down the road. If the Brewers don't trade Lucroy -- teams are certainly interested, though the Brewers seem unwilling to deal him off -- renewed extension talks would make sense this upcoming off-season.
There's interest on at least one side for a long-term deal. Furthermore, it makes sense for both sides to want a contract extension, eventually. Last spring just wasn't the right time. The next couple of off-seasons could be interesting for Lucroy and the Brewers, though.