Jonathan Lucroy went into the offseason as the most prominent free agent catcher available, though with February just a day away, Lucroy is still looking for his next team. Yesterday’s news of an agreement between Alex Avila and the Diamondbacks took yet another potential landing spot off the board for Lucroy, leaving him with a rapidly narrowing list of options as Spring Training approaches. While Lucroy is far from the only notable player whose market has stalled in this unprecedentedly-slow free agent season, his case is a particularly interesting one given the traditional lack of catching depth around baseball. There was certainly reason for teams to have concern about Lucroy heading into the winter, most notably his decline in power and framing ability and his massive slump in the first half of the 2017 season, yet you’d think that a player with Lucroy’s track record would’ve found some type of acceptable contract given how often teams require an upgrade behind the plate. It was just in 2016, remember, that Lucroy hit .292/.355/.500 with 24 homers over 544 plate appearances. As it happened, however, Lucroy seems to have run into something of a perfect storm of circumstances. Beyond just his down 2017 season and the overall free agent deep freeze, the catching market was further crowded by the presence of J.T. Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal as trade candidates. Lucroy also happened to hit free agency in a winter when most of the contending teams were pretty set behind the plate. The D’Backs and Rockies both had holes at catcher, though Arizona went with Avila while Colorado signed Chris Iannetta despite some known interest in bringing Lucroy back to Coors Field. Beyond just the contenders, a larger-than-usual number of teams in various stages of rebuilding phases haven’t had interest in spending significant dollars on a catcher (or, Lucroy may not have interest in finding himself traded at the deadline for the third consecutive year, which would be a distinct possibility if he joined a losing team on a pillow contract). The White Sox gave Welington Castillo a two-year deal, while other catchers have inked one-year Major League pacts or minor league contracts to serve in backup roles. MLB Trade Rumors ranked Lucroy 20th on our Top 50 Free Agents list, projecting him for a two-year, $24MM deal. Finding even that modest contract seems unlikely at this point, though that could open the door for more teams to some looking at Lucroy as a potential bargain. Here are some of the candidates… Mets: Lucroy reportedly drew some interest from the Amazins earlier this month, and they certainly fit the description of a team that could turn to Lucroy if (or now that) his price tag can fit into their limited budget. Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link) outlined some of the reasons for a Mets/Lucroy connection this morning, calling him “a perfect fit” given Travis d’Arnaud’s defensive limitations and the fact that d’Arnaud could either be retained as a non-costly backup or perhaps shopped himself in trade talks.
Who Will Sign Jonathan Lucroy?
MLB Trade Rumors | Jan 31