The Oakland A’s will sign free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a one-year contract, reports insider Jane Lee on Friday. Salary terms are not yet known. (Update: The contract is for $6.5M with no further incentives, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.)
Lucroy, who will turn 32 during the season, was a two-time All-Star in Milwaukee but struggled through an off-year in 2017. He began the campaign with the Rangers but didn’t hit at all, then was traded to the Rockies and rebounded somewhat down the stretch. His defense, once the subject of high praise, may also have exhibited some decline, as mentioned by Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors, though Todd notes that the Rockies spoke highly of his work with their pitchers.
Lucroy, 2017 Tex: .242/.297/.338, 66 wRC+. 4 HR, 6.2% BB, 10.5% Ks
Lucroy, 2017 Col: .310/.429/.437, 112 wRC+, 2 HR, 15.4% BB, 10.9% Ks
Note: 77 games and 306 PAs for TEX ... 46 games and 175 PAs for COL
Overall, Lucroy was only worth about 1 WAR last year at most. However, he was far more valuable during his peak — he posted a 6 WAR season as recently as 2014, and was a deserving All-Star as recently as 2016. There is definite upside to be found here, making him a stopgap at worst and a potential bargain at best on a one-year show-me deal.
Oakland’s catching situation was questionable entering the spring. Bruce Maxwell was merely replacement-level as a rookie in 2017 and still has serious legal issues hanging over his head, while Josh Phegley and Dustin Garneau profile best as backups or depth pieces than reliable producers. Now there is a veteran on board who brings experience, legit upside, and even some name power.
There will be more news to follow this announcement, including a corresponding move on the 40-man roster as well as plans about which other catcher will join Lucroy on the 25-man squad.