Category Archives: Contract Talk

Martin Maldonado’s future

Martin Maldonado has been the backup catcher for Jonathan Lucroy and the Milwaukee Brewers since 2012, but now that his former catching mate has a new home in Texas, Maldonado’s role is a bit undefined. Will he start for the rebuilding Brewers in 2017? Or will Craig Counsell go with the newly acquired Andrew Susac or will the 29-year-old Manny Pina — who put up an impressive .346 OBP in limited action last season — get the job?

Before we go into who Maldonado is as a player, we first need to look at his contract. In 2015, the Brewers signed him to a two-year, $1.9 million deal. After that finishes up this year, he still won’t be eligible for free agency until 2019, which means the Brewers have some flexibility with what they decide to do with him.

If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to bet that Maldonado will assume backup duties once again this season. Because the fact is, he’s just not that good. The 30 year old has produced a 71 wRC+ and .299 on-base percentage, and his 2.7 career WAR is mainly a product of his defense, as his skills behind home plate are continually above average (he ranked 12th in pitch framing last season, according to Stat Corner). We know what we’re going to get from Maldonado offensively. Some pop, but low on-base skills. We’ve seen that every year from him. His ceiling has already been reached, and his floor keeps lowering with each turn of the calendar. With that said, though, he did manage to tie a career-high with eight home runs during the 2016 campaign, yet expecting that kind of offensive output again — especially if he remains the backup — is a little asinine.

Maldonado’s future in Milwaukee looks like it may be coming to an end. The Brewers are high on the aforementioned Susac and really, really believe — despite his down year in the minors — in Jacob Nottingham. After Maldondao’s contract runs out, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Brewers moved on from their backup catcher. In all likelihood, he’ll still be a cheap player, which is something that is important to David Stearns, but there’s no value left in him. He is what he is. 2017 could be the last time Brewers’ fans root for Maldonado.

Assuming Maldonado is on the bench to start the season, Susac should get the Opening Day nod from Counsell. He’s not the youngest player (he’ll be 27 on March 22), but he’s proven he can hit in both the minors and the majors. By no means will he be the catcher when the Brewers are ready to compete, but he would at the very least be a better filler than Maldonado.

Milwaukee has already seen a plethora of veterans leave the club, and it’s only a matter of time before it says goodbye to one more in Maldonado.

 

Advertisements

Is Yovani Gallardo really worth $13 million?

The Milwaukee Brewers exercised Yovani Gallardo‘s club option, meaning the starting pitcher will be back in 2015. But is he really worth the $13 million the Brewers will be paying him?

In order to answer this question, let’s first take a look at his last four seasons.

Year ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2011 3.52 3.59 3.19 3.2
2012 3.66 3.94 3.55 2.5
2013 4.18 3.89 3.74 1.8
2014 3.51 3.94 3.64 1.7
Average 3.72 3.84 3.53 2.3

At 28 years old, Gallardo should be entering the prime of his career. However, in terms of Wins Above Replacement, he hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was in 2011 and 2012. Since 2011, he’s averaging 2.3 WAR a year, but a 9.2 total WAR. How does he compare with other qualified starting pitchers during that time period?

MLB Rank
ERA 53rd
FIP 65th
xFIP 29th
WAR 45th

At one point in time, Gallardo was in the “ace” discussion, but that conversation has long been put to bed. He ranks in the top 30 in only one of the major pitching categories since 2011, yet the Brewers value him as a $13 million pitcher.

To find out if he’s overpaid, I took five pitchers who are just above Gallardo in WAR since 2011, and looked at how much money they’re going to make in 2015. However, I only looked at players with guaranteed contracts to make things easier, and I also excluded Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza because if the Brewers truly are overpaying Gallardo, they might be overpaying them too.  Here’s what I found:

 

Yovani Gallardo: 9.2 WAR, $13 million

Ricky Nolasco: 9.8 WAR, $12 million

Dan Haren: 10.1 WAR, $10 million

Phil Hughes: 10.5 WAR, $8 million

Jose Quintana: 10.6 WAR, $3.6 million

R.A. Dickey: 10.8 WAR, $12 million

 

Gallardo is getting the most money while being worth the fewest number of wins. He’s even making more money than R.A. Dickey, a former Cy Young Award winner. Granted, he’s old, but still. Phil Hughes, who is earning $5 million less than Gallardo, is just a few months younger and has a higher WAR. Based on just this, the Brewers are overvaluing Gallardo. Steamer projection system says he’ll be a 1.6 WAR pitcher in 2015, and by no means is that worth $13 million.

Picking up his option was the expected move, even with the prospect of Jimmy Nelson taking his place. But the Brewers clearly weren’t satisfied with what Nelson did in limited action last season.

If Milwaukee isn’t going to trade Gallardo, it will be $13 million down the drain. The Brewers are paying him for what he’s done in the past, not what he’s going to do in the future. He’s shown no signs of improving, and odds are, 2015 will be Gallardo’s last season in Milwaukee (he’ll demand too much in free agency). It’d be smart if the Brewers would try and move him and get something in return instead of just letting him walk.