Jonathan Lucroy will once again be on a different MLB team in 2018.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Lucroy and the Oakland Athletics have reached agreement on a one-year deal that is pending a physical exam and could potentially be finalized at some point this week. Lucroy is expected to become the team’s starting catcher in place of Bruce Maxwell, who was the likely option compared to Josh Phegley.
The 31-year-old Lucroy was considered among the top free agents remaining, and the best catcher available on the open market. He is the sixth catcher to sign a Major League pact as a free agent this off-season, joining Wellington Castillo, Chris Iannetta, Nick Hundley, Rene Rivera, and Alex Avila.
Lucroy began the 2017 season with the Texas Rangers, but was subsequently traded to the Colorado Rockies after the Rangers fell out of contention. Lucroy struggled at the plate with the Rangers in 2017, as he batted .242/.297/.338 with 4 home runs and 27 runs batted in across 77 games with the Rangers. His production picked up in Colorado, as he batted .310/.429/.437 with the Rockies and hit 2 home runs and drove in 13 runs, bringing his overall season totals to .265/.345/.371, 6 home runs, and 40 runs batted in.
A major reason why it took Lucroy so long to sign with a team is his fading defensive skills. While he has still thrown out a MLB-high 191 runners trying to steal since 2011, he only threw out 26% of runners trying to steal in 2017. He is still one of the best catchers at framing pitches in the league, as that should be an added bonus to a young Athletics pitching staff that could potentially get even younger once top prospects arrive to the show.
Lucroy is a two-time MLB All-Star, with his honors coming in 2014 and 2016 during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. He is a career .281/.343/.433 hitter.
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