Which Team Could Use Jonathan Lucroy The Most?
Jonathan Lucroy wants out of Milwaukee.
As the Brewers have fully embraced rebuilding mode, the team's veteran catcher has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors. And this week, Lucroy said he's cool with that, saying, "“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to compete for the playoffs this year. If I did that, you’d call me a liar. I’d lose credibility and respect.
"I want to win and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.”
So, Lucroy wants to go to a contender, and it appears as if the Brewers would be happy to oblige him, for the right price. However, his value is not as high right now as it was a year ago.
One season after finishing fourth in the National League MVP voting, Lucroy struggled mightily last year, batting just .264/.326/.391 with 7 homers, 20 doubles, a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .313, a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 93 and an fWAR of 1.1. This is following a season in which he hit .301/.373/.465 with a wOBA of .368, a wRC+ of 132 and an fWAR of 6.1.
Lucroy did miss 50 games last year, spending time on the disabled list with a concussion and a broken toe. But much of his struggles came before those ailments. His walk rate dropped from 10.1% to 8.7% last year, and his strikeout rate jumped from 10.8% to 15.4% in 2015.
Still, despite a down year, there are teams who will be interested, contending teams with holes at catcher. Here are four that could potentially use Lucroy's help.
As of right now, Chris Iannetta is atop their depth chart. Last year he hit .188/.293/.335 in 92 games (317 plate appearances) for the Los Angeles Angels, compiling a wRC+ of 80 and an fWAR of 0.5. However, up until last season, he had been a decent player, with fWARs of 3.0, 2.0, 1.3 and 2.6 over the previous four seasons.
Iannetta has never been much a hitter for average, just a .231 lifetime batting average, but has always done well at drawing walks (14.1% walk rate), getting on-base (.351 on-base percentage) and hitting for some power (.405 career slugging percentage).
Perhaps Seattle is hoping for a bounce back season from Iannetta. But with Lucroy available, you'd have to think they'd at least be interested.
At some point, you have to wonder if the Nats are going to move on from Wilson Ramos. The oft-injured backstop actually managed to play 128 games, a career high, but hit a paltry .229/.258/.358 in 504 plate appearances. Despite hitting 15 homers and being a good defensive catcher, he was worth just 0.4 fWAR for Washington.
The Nats want to wipe away the stink of 2015, and trading for Lucroy could be a nice upgrade for them, replacing one of the many players who disappointed Washington last season.
The Rangers just agreed to a one-year, $1.55 million deal with Robinson Chirinos, avoiding arbitration. He started three of the five American League Division Series games against the Blue Jays last year and hit .232/.325/.438 in 273 plate appearances. His above average defense helped him accrue 1.5 fWAR, one season after putting up 2.3 fWAR, again, mainly thanks to his defense. Chris Gimenez is also expected to get some playing time.
However, Lucroy would likely be an upgrade over both players, and Texas has plenty of prospects from which to deal.
This one may be a bit of a long shot. Would Milwaukee trade Lucroy within the division? Probably not, but if there is one area where the Cubs are a bit weak, it's catcher.
Sure, they have Kyle Schwarber, who played catcher throughout most of his minor league career. But most don't think he's good enough to play that position from a defensive standpoint, and he is seen more as an outfielder at this stage of his career. If Chicago decides to go with Schwarber three or four days a week behind the plate, then this is all moot.
However, if the plan is to stick Schwarber in left field, then they are left with Miguel Montero and David Ross. Montero is actually a pretty good player, slashing .248/.345/.409 with an fWAR of 2.0 and a wRC+ of 107 that was above league average. Ross is a capable back-up defensively but is no great shakes at the plate, batting .176/.267/.252 last year in 182 plate appearances.
The Cubs have been aggressive all offseason, and perhaps they have one more bold move left in them.