Two stories dominated the Milwaukee Brewers-related headlines for most of this offseason: whether or not Hank the Dog is an impostor, and if/when the Brewers will trade catcher Jonathan Lucroy. One was resolved when the club came out and provided micro-chip evidence to prove that the current Hank is indeed the original, but with less than two weeks remaining until Opening Day, Lucroy remains in a Brewer uniform.
According to a recent article by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, however, Lucroy thought he was going to be shipped out of town awhile ago. In a conversation with Nightengale, Lucroy revealed that the Brewers were engaged in talks over the winter for a three-team deal involving the Astros and Braves that wound up never materializing into a deal.
Lucroy expressed his desire to play for a winner earlier this winter and suggested that he'd welcome a trade out of Milwaukee. Luc revealed to Nightengale that he was so certain that he'd be in a new city by Opening Day that he has yet to find a place to live for him and his family in Milwaukee during the regular season. This serves as somewhat of a stark reminder about how trade rumors can affect a player and his family, who we often forget are people like you and I with lives off the field.
"It's a such a weird feeling. You don't know where you're at, what's going on, what the plan is. I felt like I was going to get traded five times this offseason. I don't know why it didn't go down. So I have no idea what's going to happen. And not knowing is very difficult."
Both the Astros and Braves were linked to the Brewers at various points this past winter, so it's not exactly clear which team he would have been sent to. In my mind Houston would have made more sense, as they are in "win-now" mode while the Braves don't plan on competing until 2017, the final season of Lucroy's club control, when they move into their new stadium. The Brewers exorbitant price tag for Lucroy apparently wound up scuttling the deal anyhow, though it's been reported as recently as late February that the Astros remain interested in Milwaukee's franchise catcher.
It may end up working out in the Brewers favor that they ended up holding on to Lucroy during the winter. He reported to spring training healthy and in tip-top shape after an offseason full of conditioning that included neck strengthening exercises to help stave off future concussions. He's shown no signs of ill effects from the concussion he sustained late last season, and has hit an outstanding .371/.421/.514 with a homer and two doubles in 13 games this spring. Lucroy has caught 39 innings in eight games behind the dish without incident. With his health no longer a question, the Brewers can continue to demand a top notch return for the former All-Star.
There's still time for the Brewers to find a suitable deal for Lucroy before the regular season begins. At this point it, however, it appears more likely Slingin' Stearns will hold on to Luc and enter the regular season with him in the fold, then look to move him as the trade deadline approaches.
Statistics courtesy of Brewers.com