As the Cubs continue to look for additional catching depth, one option is now officially a free agent. Jonathan Lucroy cleared waivers, and has been released by the Angels.
To be sure about the obvious, yes, the Cubs are considering him:
Cubs are considering Jonathan Lucroy. With Contreras out, there’s a need.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 6, 2019
Lucroy, 33, would cost the Cubs only the prorated portion of the Major League minimum to sign (about $165,000). If they think he can help, he should be signed immediately. Heck, even if Willson Contreras is back in just four weeks, it still makes sense to sign Lucroy, because you’re going to want at least three catchers on the roster in September. In the meantime, if Victor Caratini or Taylor Davis were to be injured, the Cubs would be really effed.
As for what you’d get in Lucroy, well, he’s not the guy you remember with the Brewers on either side of the ball. He’s a .250/.317/.353 (77 wRC+) hitter in his three post-Brewers seasons, which make him acceptable as a back-up catcher, but that’s it. Defensively, he’s about average at this point, and his framing – which use to be the gold standard of elite – has slipped to slightly below average.
That is all to say, setting the name aside, Lucroy is basically just a fine veteran back-up catcher at this point. He would not take a ton of starts away from Caratini, and he might not even be much of an upgrade over Taylor Davis for the few games they would be starting. But veteran catchers who’ve seen a lot and have worked with a lot of pitchers have some intangible value. Plus, it’s better to have three useable catchers around than just two.
Given how little is available in August these days, and given Lucroy *is* available right now to just be signed, the Cubs need to pursue him aggressively.