MLB Trade Deadline Rumor Buy or Sell: Rangers open to moving Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy was acquired from the Brewers last year and will become a free agent after the season.
Welcome to CBSSports.com's Rumor Buy Or Sell. With the July 31 trade deadline slowly approaching, we'll break down any various trade (free agency) rumors that come your way during the summer months.
The Background: From about 2012-16, the 31-year-old Lucroy was one of the top two-way catchers in baseball. He hit .292/.355/.500 (124 OPS+) with a career-high 24 home runs last season. Lucroy was also regarded as one of the top pitch-framers in the game.
This season, however, Lucroy has struggled big time on both sides of the ball. He comes into Sunday hitting .263/.311/.375 (79 OPS+) with four home runs, and the various defensive metrics say he is no longer even an average pitch-framer, nevermind elite. His game is lagging big time.
Robinson Chirinos, 33, is hitting .231/.325/.593 (133 OPS+) with 12 home runs this season and has started to receive more and more playing time in recent weeks. He's not young by any means, but he gives the Rangers a better chance to win right now, making Lucroy expendable.
The Verdict: Buy. I believe the Rangers are very open to moving Lucroy. I'm not sure how much luck they will have finding a suitor, however. Lucroy is an impending free agent, which means his market is realistically limited to contending teams only. No rebuilding team will take on a veteran catcher who will be a free agent after the season.
The list of contending teams who need a catcher is very short. The division rival Angels would probably rather stick with Martin Maldonado (96 OPS+) than give up assets to acquire Lucroy. The Diamondbacks could seek an upgrade over Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta. What about a reunion with the Brewers? They recently claimed Stephen Vogt to pair with Manny Pina.
Of course, all it takes is one injury for a contender to need a new catcher, and catchers have a way of getting hurt. All those foul tips and the general wear and tear of catching can be pretty brutal. Right now, the Rangers might not find a robust market for Lucroy. That could easily change before July 31.
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