Texas Rangers trade rumors: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline last year, could be on the move again, with Ken Rosenthal saying on Twitter that the Rangers are opening to moving Lucroy. Rosenthal says the team is “highly unlikely” to make Lucroy a qualifying offer.
We have talked before about the possibility of Lucroy getting dealt this month, even if the Rangers stay in the Wild Card race. Three-fifths of the Ranger rotation — Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels and Martin Perez — supposedly prefer pitching to Robinson Chirinos, and Chirinos, the nominal backup, has out-hit Lucroy this season as well. While playing time is fairly equal right now, it isn’t unreasonable to think the organization may value Lucroy as a solid backup than as a starter, and thus feel that, if a team is willing to give value equal to a rental starting catcher, it is worth pulling the trigger.
The rapid decline of Jonathan Lucroy is baffling and disappointing. 11 months ago the Rangers gave up Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Ryan Cordell for Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress, a deal that is looking worse and worse by the day. Lucroy was very good for Texas over the final two months of 2016, but Jeffress got arrested and then went to rehab in August, and neither player has been good in 2017, with Jeffress (according to Jon Heyman) being considered a candidate for a DFA at one point.
Lucroy was heralded for his pitch calling and pitch framing abilities, but since coming to Texas, his pitch framing numbers have plummeted to the point he’s statistically one of the worst framers in the game. Lucroy is a smallish catcher, and there is some thought that he’s physically wearing down and not able to hold himself still enough behind the plate to maximize positive calls. Combining that with his poor hitting this year (.263/.311/.375), and you have a major disappointment.
Part of the justification for trading for Lucroy was that you were hoping that you’d sign him to an extention, and if you didn’t, you’d either be able to trade him for a significant return in 2017 (if you were out of the race) or get a draft pick at the end of the season (if you stay in the race and don’t trade him). Instead, the Rangers were unable to extend Lucroy, and then have found themselves in a situation where they won’t be offering him a qualifying offer, and may not be able to trade him for nearly what they were hoping a few months ago.
The Rangers are still just two games back for the second Wild Card spot right now, but have a bunch of teams they are fighting for that spot, and the chances of making the Wild Card game would appear to be, maybe, 15% or so. If you are Jon Daniels, you have to think about doing a “soft sell” of guys who you can afford to part with while paying lip service to contending this year, and who you aren’t interested in bringing back for 2018. Carlos Gomez and Yu Darvish appear to be safe, and I would think that there’s a decent chance Jon Daniels talks to their reps about contract extensions during the All Star Break (though I wouldn’t count on an extension actually happening). But Lucroy, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Mike Napoli all would seem to be candidates to get shopped, though there’s also the question of whether anyone would actually give up anything of value for Ross and Napoli.