Among players taken in the top 60 on average last spring who stayed mostly healthy all year, Jonathan Lucroy was the biggest bust. He posted just a .635 OPS during his time with Texas in 2017, down more than 200 points from his 2016 mark, and was ultimately dealt to Colorado at the trade deadline. Lucroy's numbers improved after he joined the Rockies (.310/.429/.437), although he managed just two homers in his 46 games after the move. Indeed the dip in power was the big story of his season on the whole, as Lucroy completely gave up power in the name of contact (10.6 percent strikeout rate), much to the detriment of his fantasy value. The catcher position is almost void of impact talent and Lucroy will remain relevant given his plate skills, but the fluctuation in his home-run totals combined with the rigors and inherent risks of the catcher position leave him with a wide range of outcomes. Bet on a batting-average rebound -- that's about as far as we'll go.
Lucroy, who inked a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Athletics on March 9, made a strong first impression on starter Sean Manaea in his catching debut Saturday, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. "He's very well prepared," Manaea said, "and he definitely takes charge and controls the entire diamond. Having a guy like that, especially with the time and knowledge that he has, is huge. It's exciting that he's here and taking control of the pitching staff. It was a lot of fun today." Lucroy got high marks across the board for his debut effort, as Mark Kotsay, the Athletics' quality control coach and acting manager for the split-squad game against the Mariners, also commented that the veteran backstop appeared to make some in-game adjustments in concert with Manaea. The 31-year-old figures to shore up the catcher position on both defense and offense, as in addition to his solid game management behind the dish, he also boasts a career .281/.343/.433 line and has smacked double-digit home runs in five of his eight major-league campaigns.
Lucroy is tentatively scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Saturday in one of the Athletics' intrasquad games, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. The veteran backstop actually got in some game action Tuesday, but it was on the minor-league side, as he caught Emilio Pagan's two-inning appearance. Lucroy is slated to be the A's' starting catcher in 2018 after slashing .265/.345/.371 over 481 plate appearances with the Rangers and Rockies last season, while Bruce Maxwell is set to serve as his backup.
Lucroy has agreed to a one-year deal with the A's, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. The market did not develop the way Lucroy had hoped, so he was forced to settle for a one-year deal. This is about as good of a landing spot as prospective fantasy owners could have hoped for, as Lucroy will likely have a chance to earn a decent share of the starts behind the dish in Oakland. Bruce Maxwell was set to occupy the strong side of a platoon, and while Maxwell will still likely start against some righties, Lucroy should start against southpaws while also getting some starts against same-handed pitching. The signing gives Lucroy a chance to rehab his value, particularly with regard to pitch-framing metrics, while giving the A's an affordable catcher with the potential to be a top-10 option at the position. He is entering his age 31/32 season and is coming off a year where he hit .265/.345/.371 with six home runs in 481 plate appearances. It is unclear what the terms of the deal are at this point.
The Nationals have shown interest in signing Lucroy, MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals' catching depth consists of Matt Wieters, who is coming off a year where he rated as worse than a replacement-level player (-0.2 fWAR), Miguel Montero (NRI), Pedro Severino (one minor-league option remaining) and prospect Raudy Read, who will be suspended for the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for PEDs. It's not hard to envision Lucroy representing an upgrade over those options, but he may have to settle for something close to the major-league minimum at this stage of the game. It's unclear which other teams have interest in signing Lucroy.
Lucroy is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Padres, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports. Lucroy will be granted a day off after starting each of the team's past eight contests. The 31-year-old produced a trio of three-hit games over that stretch and is hitting a respectable .286 during September. He'll be replaced by Tony Wolters behind the plate Sunday.