MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers signed Brandon Kintzler to a $1.075 million, one-year deal and tendered contracts to their two other arbitration-eligible players, catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielder Gerardo Parra, ahead of a Tuesday night deadline that could have pushed any of the trio into free agency.
Teams had until 10:59 p.m. CT to tender 2015 contracts to their unsigned players, a mere formality for pre-arbitration players earning salaries near the league minimum, but more than a formality for those with enough Major League service time to qualify for arbitration. Players who were non-tendered on Tuesday joined the list of free agents. Players who were tendered a contract are considered signed for 2015, at a salary to be determined later.
Kintzler was arbitration-eligible for the first time after making $507,000 last season while quietly fighting shoulder and knee injuries, and pitching in fewer high-leverage situations. He still managed to post a 3.24 ERA in 64 appearances, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following the season to correct a defect in his patella that was causing pain. In addition to his base salary, Kintzler can earn a $25,000 bonus if he makes 60 appearances in 2015.
Maldonado was also arbitration-eligible for the first time. The backup to All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Maldonado is a superior defensive player and game-caller who can also fill in at first base. He earned $502,000 last season. That salary will rise in arbitration, but Maldonado will cost significantly less than Parra, who has more than five years of Major League service time and earned $4.85 million last season.
That salary would rise in arbitration, leading to some speculation that the Brewers, whose projected payroll has already surpassed $100 million, could opt to non-tender Parra. Acquired in a July trade with the D-backs, Parra is expected to again be a backup outfielder for the Brewers, who expect to start Khris Davis in left field, Carlos Gomez in center and Ryan Braun in right.
Parra, 27, batted .261 with a .308 on-base percentage in 574 plate appearances between the Brewers and D-backs last season, and he was a finalist for a National League Gold Glove Award. For the Brewers, he started 18 games in left field and five apiece in center and right.
The Brewers still view Davis, who will be entering his second full Major League season, as a regular starter, so Parra, barring injuries, could again bounce around to various positions.
"He's a good defensive player, an experienced defender, a pinch-hitter," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "It's a fair amount of money, but again, look how much he's playing."
The Brewers are positioned to listen to offers for their outfielders during next week's Winter Meetings in San Diego. Parra, a free agent following the 2015 season, would be the easiest to part with.
Likewise, the Brewers have been receiving some calls on starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse. Both are heading into contract years, and the Brewers currently have six viable starting pitchers for five spots.
"Like other things, maybe it's a situation where you go to the Winter Meetings and explore opportunities," Ash said. "But there's no 'have to' [trade Parra] in this."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.