Jonathan Lucroy is a fan favorite. He's one of the best catchers in franchise history. Regardless of his problematic 2015 season, he's still universally considered a top ten catcher and arguably still in the top five. And at this point in his career and with the Brewers on a rebuilding path, most importantly Jonathan Lucroy is the Brewers biggest trade chip. Yesterday I talked a bit about when he might be traded. Today I'm going to take a closer look at that question.
In that article was a poll giving you four options as to when you thought Lucroy would be traded. I also tweeted this poll:
Given @Ken_Rosenthal tweet about teams still interested in Lucroy, do you think he gets traded in spring training?— Brew Crew Ball (@BrewCrewBall) March 14, 2016
The vast majority of poll participants firmly believe Lucroy won't be traded before the season begins. I get it. I myself am not convinced he'll be moved during spring training. But at this point I still think it's a strong possibility at least.
Last year Lucroy's numbers weren't great: 264/326/391, 93 wRC+, 7 HR. Believe it or not, that paltry production would still have put him 7th in offense among qualified catchers. It also ranked 10 among catchers with a minimum of 400 plate appearances. That being said, it's not the type of production teams trade for. But I sincerely doubt any team truly believes that's the type of hitter Lucroy is.
We're all aware of the injuries Lucroy suffered last year. He missed most of spring training with a hamstring injury. Then in April he broke his foot. If you just remove the hideous 12 games to start his season--which came after the hamstring issue and leading up to the broken toe--Lucroy hit 282/342/420, 105 wRC+. That looks a lot more like normal Jonathan Lucroy. In the second half he hit 289/342/461, 116. So here we see evidence that the power was starting to come back too.
Teams are smart enough to know that Lucroy was hurt last year and that had an effect on his production. I don't really think that a real obstacle in trade talks. The concussion he suffered at the end of the year is a different matter. Concussions are deadly serious and can potential ruin careers. No doubt teams will want to see him in game action before deciding to trade for him.
That's why a lot of people speculated a trade during spring training was a possibility. We're just now getting to the point where Lucroy will start catching in back-to-back games. I think once that happens a couple of times a team might decided to go all-in on him. But that's more speculation on my part. And there's a time frame after which I think a trade before the season begins is almost certainly not going to happen. Teams will want to give him time to become familiar with their pitching staff--which is one of the reasons a mid-season trade is problematic and yet another reason why some think a spring trade was possible.
We're in that sweet spot right now where a Lucroy trade is most likely. But if he's not traded in the next 10 days I think it doesn't happen this spring. And my concern is if they don't trade him this spring, they might end up waiting until the winter. And unless he has a monster season, he might be worth significantly less--although I don't know what teams are offering now. But the point is that assets with one year of control have been going for a lot less that assets with even just 1.5 seasons of control. Teams pay a premium for having a player for two playoff berths.
I have no real idea when Lucroy will be traded. I want to believe it will be in the next ten days or so. But that may just be wishful thinking. It might not end up happening for another 10 months for all I know! But I do trust David Stearns to make the best possible decision. He certainly operates with way more information than I do.