Since you looked away for a second, the Cubs have won eight of their last eleven games, rampaging through Los Angeles, Arizona, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, and emerging with a series win from the smoking crater to which they have reduced each city. The idea that they would still be trying to acquire talent to get better is both alarming and cruel.
Yet that appears to be the plan. Brewers catcher and impending free agent Jonathan Lucroy is expected to the main topic of a lot of phone calls as the trade deadline approaches, and one of the first teams to mutter his name has been Chicago. Sliding an All-Star catcher hitting over .300 into the Cubs lineup sounds dangerous for everyone, but according to Ken Rosenthal, neither the Cubs nor another suitor, the Rays, appear to be likely places for the backstop - who turns 30 today - to land.
The Cubs inquired on Lucroy last season, and at one point explored the possibility of involving a third club to help facilitate a trade. But the talks never turned serious and they are unlikely to revive at the deadline. Miguel Montero is under contract for $14 million for next season, and the Cubs at some point will phase in their top prospect, Wilson Contreras.
Yes, that's right - the Cubs have another top prospect to work into their lineup between series victories and walking Bryce Harper, and this one just happens to play the position they are trying to strengthen. Lucroy, who is slashing .303/.362/.512 with 7 HR, 36 BB, and 2.0 WAR for the sad, 30-33 Brewers, will be helpful anywhere he ends up (replacing the .210-hitting Montero is almost too obvious an improvement), but the Cubs just have too dense a wall of young talent to allow for his entry.
Next up is Tampa, who from their viewpoint in last place in the AL East are probably drooling over Lucroy’s numbers. Seeing what Curt Casali (.176/.279/.370 in 44 G) and Hank Conger (.215/.279/.342 in 33 G) have done for them only makes Lucroy more appealing. But as Rosenthal says, any trade with the rebuilding Brewers means handing over prospects, something the Rays abhor doing, and do not seem close enough to competing this season to make the Lucroy rental worth the potential loss of youth.
Anybody else out there looking for a catcher who was hitting .515 through a nine-game stretch earlier this month? The Mets, like almost every Major League Baseball team, would love to see more offensive output from their backstop. Travis d’Arnaud strained his rotator cuff and won't be back in action for another week, and in the mean time, his replacement, Kevin Plawecki, has just been trying to keep his head above hitting .200. But the New York Post feels there are two main reasons why New York won’t get Lucroy.
1. The Mets don’t sound ready to give up on Travis d’Arnaud as their long-term catcher.
2. The Brewers, who can ask for plenty to land Lucroy, and the Mets, whose best young talent already is playing crucial roles on the major-league club, might not have a match.
The Mets’ young, wavy-haired pitching staff has already established itself as critical to their success, and watching any of them clear out their locker to make room for Lucroy’s bat would be a tough moment for their front office.
Somebody’s going to land this guy and send the Milwaukee retooling operation into overdrive. Until then, teams will be forced to simply salivate from afar.