Would a trade for Jonathan Lucroy make sense as the Toronto Blue Jays look to add a backup catcher?
With Spring Training only being a month and a half away, the Blue Jays ,in the final months of the offseason, still have some holes to fill on their roster. With the acquisition of Jesse Chavez, and relief pitcher Drew Storen, the pitching on the Jays seems to be deeper than past seasons. Who will be catching for these pitchers, still remains unanswered.
With starting catcher Russell Martin locked up on a long term deal, and Dioner Navarro signing with the Chicago White Sox, and not a lot of options in the Minor League system, the Jays Major League catching talent pool seems a bit thin. Though, there’s nothing thinner than the catching market for free agents, which has almost no options right now. The last resort to get a solid backup catcher might be through a trade.
On Tuesday January 19th, it was reported by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that Milwaukee Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, would be open to the possibility of a trade. “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.” Lucroy might not be used to the backup catcher role, but with the affordability Lucroy offers within his contract, being paid $4.35 million this season, and a $5.25 million team option in 2017, having a starting quality catcher like Lucroy in the backup position would not only add incredible depth to the roster, but wouldn’t hurt the Blue Jays’ wallets either.
Trade rumors involving Lucroy, have circled around a lot this offseason. Teams like the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and Oakland Athletics all calling asking about the availability of Lucroy, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of interest. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers asking price for Lucroy might be too high for a lot of teams. It’s hard to grasp what the Brewers might exactly want in return for Lucroy, wether it be prospects to build into the future with, or proven Major League talent. With the Blue Jays having such a hole at the catcher position, it’s hard not to give the thought a chance.
The 29 years old Lucroy had his breakout in the 2014 season, leading the Brewers to a surprising lead in the NL Central for most of the year, until faltering in the second half of the season. Lucroy would be named the starting catcher for the National League in the All-Star game, win the Fielding Bible Award, lead the NL in doubles (46), be fourth in NL MVP voting, and be one of only 16 players in the MLB bat over .300. Lucroy would look almost untouchable, although the Brewers would falter in the second half of the season, and miss the playoffs finishing 82-80. With a strong core of Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Gomez, this team could compete with anyone team in their division.
The 2015 season wouldn’t work out for both Lucroy, and the Brewers, finishing the season 68-94 and enter into full rebuild mode. Lucroy in late April, would break his toe and miss more than a month, once coming back in June, he would have trouble finding his 2014 self.
Would the thought of getting Lucroy as a backup catcher be insane? Yes, it absolutely would be. The Brewers might be selling Lucroy based on his 2014 self, looking for top level prospects to build into the future with. That might be tough for the Blue Jays, considering their thin Minor League talent, but the chance to fill a major gap and turn it into a huge strength, sounds enticing.
For the Blue Jays, it would be crazy to even think about having a player like Lucroy there as a depth piece, but if the goal is to make a deep run in the playoffs, splitting time between catchers wouldn’t be a crazy thought, and with catching depth this good it would never hinder the strength of the lineup. (Lucroy might also see a power increase coming from the NL Central to the AL East) It might take a lot to get him, and he might not be excited to be a backup, but a chance to play on a World Series contender is what Lucroy is looking for, maybe the Blue Jays can be that answer.
*Featured Image Credit: Thomson20192 UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Spencer Redmond is a Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His loves in life are the NBA, MLB, Stats, and his dog Parker.