Brewers, Maldonado agree to 2-year deal

Backup catcher signs for $1.95 million to avoid arbitration

Brewers, Maldonado agree to 2-year deal

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers halved their potential arbitration cases Thursday by agreeing to a two-year, $1.95 million contract with backup catcher Martin Maldonado, leaving only outfielder Gerardo Parra unsigned for next season.

Maldonado was eligible for the first time as a Super Two player after earning $502,000 last year. He received a $50,000 signing bonus and salaries of $800,000 in 2015 and $1.1 million in '16, all of which is guaranteed under a multiyear deal.

"This one was pretty straightforward," said assistant GM Gord Ash, who handled negotiations with Maldonado's agent, Francis Marquez. "We had parallel paths, one [leading to] a one-year deal and the other a two-year deal. We pretty much left it up to what he wanted to do."

In the end, Maldonado received the security of two guaranteed years and the Brewers received cost certainty, plus potential savings should he emerge as more than a backup to regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

Even if he remains a backup, Maldonado could see more playing time than the 126 plate appearances he tallied in 2014. The Brewers made a December trade for left-handed-hitting first baseman Adam Lind, whose pronounced lefty-righty splits could require a right-handed platoon partner. At the moment, Lucroy looks like a strong candidate to man first base against left-handed starting pitchers, meaning Maldonado would start at catcher.

"I think that's going to unfold. I don't think we can presuppose anything," Ash said. "He's got tremendous value as a defensive-minded catcher who handles the [pitching] staff well. Coaches value his input. It's a difficult role to stay sharp [without regular playing time], but he does."
 
With Maldonado under contract it left Parra, who has five-plus years of Major League service time and is arbitration-eligible for the final time before reaching free agency. His salary will rise from the $4.85 million Parra earned last season, when he was sent from the D-backs to the Brewers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July.

Friday is the date teams and their unsigned players formally exchange salary proposals through Major League Baseball. If Parra remains unsigned at that time, the Brewers will shut down negotiations and go to arbitration, Ash said. Milwaukee has employed such a strategy, known as "file and trial," for several years in an effort to avoid negotiations dictated by arbitrary midpoints in filing figures.

Brewers coordinator of advance scouting and baseball contracts Matt Kleine is handling talks with Parra's representatives. They have focused on a one-year contract, Ash said.

"If I were to guess right now, I would say [figures] get exchanged," Ash said Thursday evening.

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.