As discussed this morning in the Bullets, the Cubs are holding open the possibility that a back-up cacher becomes available in the final days before the opener. With Austin Romine injured (knee), the Cubs currently have rookie P.J. Higgins slated to serve behind Willson Contreras. but you never know who might pop up at the end of Spring Training.
For example, a guy who already knows the Cubs’ run-prevention operations and some of the pitching staff:
Sources: Jonathan Lucroy has been released by the Chicago White Sox. He hit .333/.478/.389 this spring and with no shortage of teams needing a catcher, should land with another team soon.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 29, 2021
Lucroy, who spent the stretch run in 2019 with the Cubs, didn’t really play in 2020, and was in camp with the White Sox trying to win a back-up job. But with catchers Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes also looking like quality catcher/DHs to have on the roster (especially after Andrew Vaughn moved to left to cover for the injured Eloy Jimenez), Lucroy got squeezed out despite a healthy spring.
To be sure, Lucroy, 34, is not going to put up plus offensive numbers, and he is now defensively more of a “passable” than a “good.” But he’s a veteran who knows how the Cubs operate and has familiarity with some of the pitchers. That would certainly make adding him a lot smoother process than another catcher at this stage of the season.
Is Lucroy a real upgrade over Higgins? Hard to say given that neither played in 2020 and Higgins is still a real unknown. I will admit that there have been moments this spring when Higgins simply did not look like a big league catcher behind the plate, but maybe that was just a matter of “spring training stuff” and getting to know the pitchers a bit more.