The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is on Friday, and entering today the Milwaukee Brewers had decisions to make regarding the cases of 13 players. That number is now officially down to 12, as this evening the club announced that they have agreed to terms with Erik Kratz on a one-year deal:
Catcher Erik Kratz has agreed to a 1-year contract, avoiding arbitration. 12 players remain arbitration eligible: Pérez, Piña, Saladino, Santana, Schoop, Shaw, Cedeño, Davies, Guerra, Jennings, Knebel and Nelson. pic.twitter.com/yG9jOfoWsL— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) November 27, 2018
Kratz will receive $1.2M if in majors, with 300K guaranteed. plus award bonuses https://t.co/7XPqQ9NFHS— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 27, 2018
The Brewers acquired Kratz, a career journeyman who turns 39 next June, last May in a deal with the Yankees for a player to be named (later, Wendell Rijo). He quickly became an important contributor for the team, earning a timeshare with Manny Pina behind the plate thanks to his quality defensive work. Kratz was rated as one of the top pitch framers in baseball and was lauded by teammates for his leadership in the clubhouse as well as his work with the pitching staff. His .236/.280/.355 slash (70 wRC+) was well below the league average, but it was an adequate enough offensive contribution given what he brings to the plate, behind the dish. Kratz did mash six homers in 219 plate appearances, and his 46.4% rate of hard contact ranked among the leaders for players with at least 200 plate appearances. Kratz also created a few memorable moments in the playoffs, including batting .625 in the NLDS sweep of the Rockies.
The $1.2 mil figure reported by Jon Heyman comes in $500K below what Kratz was projected to receive by MLB Trade Rumors, so the Brewers will save some space against their projected payroll for 2019. As for that $300K figure, well, arbitration contracts are, by nature, not fully guaranteed. A player on an arbitration salary can be cut by his team before the start of the regular season, and the team is only on the hook for a portion of the contract in the form of termination pay. So $300K is essentially the same amount of money Kratz would receive if he were released on the last day of Spring Training, anyways. It stands to reason that this deal with Kratz shouldn’t stand in the way of making a more impactful addition at catcher, should the opportunity present itself at some point this offseason.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs