Jonathan Lucroy explains understandable reasons why he vetoed trade to Indians
Concerns about playing time and the team's unwillingness to drop his option were deciding factors
Prior to the trade deadline, the first place Indians made a big splash by acquiring Andrew Miller from the Yankees. They actually agreed to make two big splashes, but a trade for Jonathan Lucroy fell apart because he invoked his no-trade clause.
The Indians and Brewers reportedly agreed to a trade that would have sent Lucroy to Cleveland for four prospects, including catcher Francisco Mejia. The Indians were on Lucroy's limited no-trade list, and after taking some time to think things over, he vetoed the trade.
During a chat with ESPN's Robert Sanchez, Lucroy cleared up some rumors and explained why he blocked the trade to the Indians. It boiled down to playing time and his 2017 team option. Here's Lucroy, via Sanchez:
My agent, Doug Rogalski, found out it was the Indians that traded for me. I was surprised, but I wanted to keep an open mind. Great team. Competitive team. There's a real chance to win. Doug called Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president. There was one thing we wanted to know: What was my future with the Indians? We knew Cleveland already had a good catcher, Yan Gomes, who's injured right now. He's getting paid more than me, and he's younger than me. We knew they'd probably want him catching almost every day next year. Heck, if I were the general manager in Cleveland, I'd want Gomes catching every day.
We were right. Antonetti told Doug that the Indians couldn't make any promises on me catching next season. There was no way they'd drop the team option, either, because I'm pretty inexpensive in 2017. I don't blame them. I would have been mostly at first base and designated hitter. In the end, that was the deal killer. Doug called me. He said, You're not going there.
Lucroy's contract includes a bargain $5.25 million team option for next season, which is one of the reasons he was so attractive on the trade market. It sounds as though he was willing to accept the trade as long as the Indians were dropped the option and let him become a free agent after this season, but no dice.
Here's a little more from Lucroy:
Cleveland fans don't like that part, but it's nothing against them. it wasn't personal. If anything, I have even more respect for the Indians because of Antonetti's honesty. He could have lied to my agent and said I'd play catcher every day next season. But he didn't. He told the truth. I'm thankful for that. My decision not to go to Cleveland had nothing to do with the team, but it had everything to do with my future in this game. It was an economic decision. Period. I have to look out for my family's best interests and my interests as a catcher who'd be going into 2018 not having played my position the previous year. I am a catcher. I've been catching since I was 12 years old. I love being behind the plate, being involved in the game from that perspective. I love every part of that. I'm not changing positions for anybody. I don't care who it is. My value is as a catcher, and I know it.
The Brewers regrouped and later trade Lucroy to the Rangers in a five-player trade. Texas was not on Lucroy's limited no-trade list, so could not reject the trade.
I understand why some folks, especially Indians fans, are upset with Lucroy for blocking the trade. He was poised to go to a good team with a chance to win a World Series title, and many believing winning should be the No. 1 priority. Lucroy rejected the trade and that can be perceived as a knock on the Indians.
That's not really the case though. Lucroy is looking out for himself and his family by making sure he's in the right situation to maximize his value both now and in the future. The limited no-trade clause was negotiated into his contract, the Brewers agreed to it, and Lucroy was well within his rights to use it. That the Brewers decided to pursue a deal with a team on his no-trade list is their problem.
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