The Brewers have been without Jonathan Lucroy since the catcher suffered a broken toe and was placed on the disabled list April 20. However, that has not kept him out of the news.
With the Brewers suffering what has, so far, been a highly disappointing season, rumors have naturally sprung up that they will look to deal away some players in an effort to rebuild or retool their roster for a run in future seasons. Guys like Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza and Aramis Ramirez are pretty clearly available while others, like Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, will be more difficult to pry away.
The Braves apparently found out just how hard it would be to get Lucroy. Atlanta inquired about a trade for the 2014 All Star, but were told by the Brewers that he is not available in a trade, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Of any player currently on the Brewers roster, Lucroy might bring back the largest potential return for the Brewers in a trade. Still just 28, he led the league with 53 doubles last year en route to batting .301/.373/.465 and receiving enough votes to place fourth in MVP voting. He's also a fantastic defensive pitcher, particularly with regard to pitch framing, and is under an extremely team-friendly contract.
In short, Jonathan Lucroy might very well be the most valuable catcher in baseball today, especially when taking into account his contract.
That's also why the Brewers will clearly be reluctant to trade him. This isn't a situation where he'll be gone after this season: Lucroy is under team control through 2017 at a cost of $3 million this year, $4 million in 2016 and a $5.25 million team option in 2017. That's ridiculous value.
Further, there's certainly a possibility the Brewers could re-sign Lucroy, if they feel it's worth it. Here are the Brewers players guaranteed a contract past 2017: Ryan Braun. That leaves a ton of payroll flexibility. Further, Yadier Molina likely set the bar with what Lucroy could potentially be getting in an extension when he signed a five year deal with the Cardinals worth $75 million before the 2012 season. Salaries rise year-to-year, but any sort of deal with Lucroy isn't likely to be especially crippling at the surface.
The Braves, of course, have reason to want a catcher. They're back at .500 after a win against Milwaukee Thursday night and could surprisingly contend yet this season, plus Lucroy's contract means he isn't just a rental. Atlanta catchers, led by Christian Bethancourt, have batted just .252/.284/.384, however.
Atlanta would have to give up a ton to pry Lucroy away this early, though. The Brewers are in a power position when discussing their catcher in trades. They have absolutely no need to trade him anytime soon, so they'll need an absolute bonanza in prospects to part with Lucroy.
Nearly any team in baseball would love to have Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers actually have him. And for now, it looks like they seem set to keep him.