Posted on July 2, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
As we move into July, the Texas Rangers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they are very much in contention in a crowded wild-card race. But on the other hand, a combination of injuries and a bullpen that continues to have problems makes it unlikely that they’ll reach the postseason and be a legitimate contender. Given the circumstances, he may behoove the Rangers to be sellers at the trade deadline rather than buyers. If that’s the case, it looks like catcher Jonathan Lucroy could be on the trade block.
Several outlets, including Ken Rosenthal, are reporting that the Rangers are open to trading Lucroy this summer. Lucroy is set to become a free agent this winter, and Texas is unlikely to make him a qualifying offer. This would make trading Lucroy a logical decision, especially if the Rangers don’t believe they are serious contenders this year.
Lucroy has been in Texas for just under a year. The Rangers gave up top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz to acquire him and reliever Jeremy Jeffress right at the trade deadline last year. The trade has not quite worked as expected for Texas. Lucroy was productive late last season and helped the Rangers secure the AL West title. However, he did not help Texas advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
A key component of that trade was knowing that Lucroy would return in 2017. However, Lucroy’s production has taken a serious hit this year. Lucroy entered Sunday hitting .263 with an OPS of .686. The Rangers thought they’d have one of the best catchers in baseball this season. Instead, Lucroy has been average at best. He’s also continued to lose out on playing time to Robinson Chirinos. The 33-year old Chirinos isn’t hitting for much average, but he’s slugged 12 home runs in a little over 100 at-bats this season. Lucroy, meanwhile, has just four home runs on the season after hitting 24 last year.
Lucroy and Chirinos are more or less splitting time behind the plate 50-50 at this point in the season. If the Rangers decide to trade Lucroy, they can simply give Chirinos a bulk of the playing time without a second thought. Texas can also promote Brett Nicholas from triple-A. Nicholas is currently hitting .316 with an OPS of .833 at triple-A and should be a more than adequate backup to Chirinos.
His disappointing season has certainly hurt Lucroy’s trade value. However, he has enough of a track record to attract interest from potential contenders that think Lucroy has a chance to turn things around the second half of the season. The Rangers could look to trade Lucroy for some bullpen help or add to a farm system that lost several key pieces in trades made last summer.
There’s no need for the Rangers to rush a trade involving Lucroy. However, reports indicate they have already started to contact clubs about a potential trade involving their catcher. Teams like the Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Indians, and Rockies could all be potential landing spots for Lucroy. Other contenders are just one injury away from being in the market for a catcher. Taking all that into account, it appears to be quite possible, if not likely, that Lucroy gets traded for a second consecutive summer.