Twelve months ago, Jonathan Lucroy was considered one most valuable targets at the trade deadline, before the Milwaukee Brewers dealt him to the Texas Rangers for a prospect-heavy haul. Fast forward to now, and it seems like Lucroy may be hearing his name on the trade block again, very soon.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Texas is open to moving Lucroy and going forward with a catching duo of Robinson Chirinos and Brett Nicholas. Despite Lucroy being the most accomplished name in the bunch, his value has regressed significantly on both sides of the ball. He’s no longer impacting games on a regular basis.
Since Opening Day, Lucroy has slashed an unimpressive .263/.311/.375 across 241 plate appearances. He’s only launched a total of four home runs, but his thirteen doubles still show there’s some power in his bat. Ultimately, the team’s biggest problem surrounding Lucroy is his struggles behind the plate.
Just a few years ago, Lucroy’s defensive skills were praised consistently by numerous scouts and analyst. His ability to frame pitches was something truly special, but he’s aged fast, and it seems like the skill has disappeared. At age 31, it’s tough to envision Lucroy’s body bouncing back, after seeing the different injuries he’s battled throughout his career.
If Lucroy isn’t dealt by the Rangers, Rosenthal noted it’s “unlikely” that the organization extends a qualifying offer his way, at the end of the season. Follow this logic, Texas will need to deal Lucroy for an asset, or he’ll leave in free agency this winter, without offering some type of return.
While trading Lucroy may seem like the Rangers are giving up on 2017, they aren’t. Throughout the past few seasons, Texas has consistently dealt prospects to help fill holes on the major league team. This approach has drained their resources quite a bit, so Lucroy gives the Rangers the ability to make a move, without compromising the big league team, or the future.
The team’s biggest need right now is an impact arm in the later innings. A combination of injuries and different relievers underperforming has created a huge mess in their bullpen. At the moment, Texas leads the MLB in blown saves this season, with a total of 16. If the Rangers want to grab a Wild Card spot in October, they need to finish games with their bullpen.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies seem like great fits for Lucroy, with both teams carrying young cores, and needing some stability at catcher. He’d be a cheap rental, who has the potential to produce on the field, and in the clubhouse. Maybe a change of scenery and a return to the National League could alter Lucroy’s fortunes.
While the market for Lucroy doesn’t seem vast right now, anything can happen. It takes one injury, for a team to become desperate for a replacement, or the Rangers to hold back on making a move. Not to mention, a front office only has to look back to last season, if they want to see the impact a productive Jonathan Lucroy can have on a team.