Brewers Catcher Jonathan Lucroy Signs Long-Term Contract

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a new five-year contract that runs through 2016, and it's already looking like a great deal for the team.

Well, it's finally official. Monday, it was widely reported that Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy was close to signing a long-term contract that would cover his arbitration years.

Well, now we've got some details (via Tom Haundricourt):

The Brewers normally do not make details of contracts known, but the deal covers five years for about $11 million, with the money adjusted if Lucroy gains "Super 2" status this year and becomes eligible for salary arbitration. The five years would cover the 2012 season and all four years of arbitration for Lucroy.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players in the top 22% of service time with between two and three years in the majors become "Super 2" players and are eligible for arbitration a year early. Lucroy has one year, 136 days of service time and will be on the cusp of "Super 2" status, one way or the other.

Just a few quick things about this ...

One, there's something to be said for cost certainty and roster stability. If Lucroy stays healthy and the organization doesn't come up with a talented young catcher -- granted, Martin Maldonado's a pretty good prospect -- the Brewers are locked in for the next four or five seasons.

Two, $11 million is not a great deal of money. Not at all. Again, if Lucroy's healthy over these next five seasons, $11 million will seem really cheap.

Three, while it might seem hard to get excited about Lucroy's performance -- including his .260/.307/.366 line in the majors -- he's still young enough to improve, and that's not the most important thing about Jonathan Lucroy.

The most important thing is that he's a catcher. Granted, he's a catcher who doesn't throw well. But there's evidence that he does something else exceptionally well. According to Mike Fast's research, over the last two seasons Lucroy's ability to frame pitches -- for lack of a better label -- led to more "extra" strikes than any other catcher in the major leagues. According to this measure, Lucroy saved nearly 40 runs above average, which is equivalent to roughly four wins ... Which means instead of being roughly four Wins Above Replacement, he's actually been eight Wins Above Replacement ... and if that's right, he's also been worth around $32 million over the last two seasons.

Which makes $11 million for five seasons look like an outright steal.

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