Earlier this week, our own eddiematthews speculated that the Cleveland Indians could be a match for Jonathan Lucroy following a significant shoulder injury to starting catcher Yan Gomes. It appears as though eddiematthews had some good foresight, as today ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Indians and Brewers are indeed discussing a potential trade that would send Lucroy to Ohio.
Sources: CLE in talks for MIL's Jonathan Lucroy. Perhaps Brantley's situation has pushed them to add a hitter & consider upgrade at catcher.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 20, 2016
Gomes was actually performing rather poorly at the time of his injury, posting a meager .165/.198/.313 slash in 262 plate appearances before hitting the disabled list. He’s slated to miss anywhere between four and eight weeks with his ailing shoulder.
At 55-38, the Indians currently hold a seven game lead in the AL Central. Their offense ranks fifth in the league averaging 5.0 runs per game and their stellar pitching also ranks fifth in baseball with a 3.59 ERA. The club could certainly use an upgrade behind the plate, however; and as Olney alluded to star outfielder Michael Brantley recently suffered a setback in his rehab and he may not return this season.
Lucroy has been excellent for the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers this season, batting .305/.362/.494 with 12 home runs in 340 plate appearances to go along with his typical brand of strong defense behind the dish. He’s still owed roughly $2 mil this season and has an eminently reasonable $5.25 mil option for 2017.
The Indians possess plenty of interesting prospects within their highly rated farm system that they could tempt Slingin’ David Stearns and the Brewers with. At the top are two touted outfielders in Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, both of whom are performing well at AA Akron this season. Beyond those two, 1B Bobby Bradley and LHPs Brady Aiken and Justus Sheffield round out the Indians’ top five prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
Cleveland has also been said to be eyeing the market for relief pitching, including the Brewers dynamic duo of Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress. Perhaps a major blockbuster deal could be in the works.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs