The Cincinnati Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco have agreed to a four-year, $28 million extension, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reported, avoiding arbitration The Reds have announced the deal.
Mesoraco will earn $28 million as a base, receiving a $500,000 signing bonus, $2.4 million in 2015, $4.9 million in 2016, $7.2 million in 2017, and $13 million in 2018, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The deal also includes $2 million worth of performance bonuses. The deal can max out at $30 million.
The 26-year-old Mesoraco was the Reds' 1st round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft and broke onto the scene in 2014, earning himself his first career All-Star nomination. He slashed .273/.359/.534 with 25 homers and 80 runs batted in over 440 plate appearances. He posted a 147 wRC+ in 114 games. Mesoraco became the full-time starting catcher in Cincinnati for the first time last season and proved his worth.
Mesoraco's defense was solid as well, being both a good receiver and getting runners out at around an average rate. He was worth two defensive runs saved in 2014, but his defense rating above average found itself at 7.3. According to FanGraphs' "Dollars" statistic, which converts WAR to what a player would make in free agency, Mesoraco's performance would have netted him $24.1 million.
While Mesoraco will not make $24.1 million at all during his contract, that is due to the arbitration process. He would have headed to arbitration for the first time this winter and would have made somewhere in the ballpark of his $2.4 million 2015 salary.
From a player standpoint, Mesoraco's deal for an average of $7 million a year is a good deal. According to MLB Trade Rumors' Extension Tracker (which tracks data back to 2000), six other catchers have received extensions between their third and fourth seasons in terms of service time. On average, the players made about $4 million a year. So Mesoraco's performance played a big part in the higher AAV.