The tough decision to trade away a star player may have just gotten a little easier. In an interview with Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt, Jonathan Lucroy was pretty clear about how he wants to spend the next few years — and it isn’t with the cellar-dwelling Brewers:
“I want to win and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.”
It’s difficult to blame Lucroy. He doesn’t have a lot of time to spend waiting for the Brewers to compete: he’s a 29 year old playing perhaps the most physically demanding position in professional sports.
Plus, Lucroy is a hot commodity right now, despite coming off of a year where he underperformed in the first half and dealt with injuries. His incredibly team-friendly deal and his high-caliber defense make him valuable even with his offensive concerns. But if any teams are willing to give up the king’s ransom that the Brewers are reportedly asking for, they will be banking on a return to his 2014 form.
That year, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs argued that Lucroy should have been strongly considered for the NL MVP. A potential MVP candidate for a salary around $4 million in 2016. Any team in the Majors would take Lucroy for that salary. One could argue that any team would take him if his salary was tripled.
The problem is the immense return the Brewers are asking for. They know what Lucroy can be, and they want to be compensated as such. Teams looking to receive Lucroy fear that he won’t return to form, and they will have given up a bunch of their best young talent for a 29-year-old catcher whose best days are behind him.
If the Brewers can’t trade Lucroy for their asking price before or during the 2016 season, they can either hold onto the catcher and lose their opportunity to gain any prospects, or part ways with one of the best catchers in baseball for a lesser asking price. It’s not a great situation, and there is a lot of angst going around regarding the Brewers’ catcher.
Haudricourt is technically correct, which is the best kind of correct. But c’mon, Tom. Of course fans would be mad if Lucroy was traded for a pittance. But that would be true of any trade. If you’re rebuilding, you might want to trade those players who won’t be around the next time the team competes. That doesn’t mean you should take any deal that comes your way, just to be rid of them.
I may think that the best course of action is to trade Lucroy, particularly since he would prefer to play for a contender, but that doesn’t mean I want the Brewers to dump him. He’s a very valuable player, and a fan favorite.
If Lucroy doesn’t garner a large return, the front office could face the scorn of thousands of fans. Actually, they’ll probably face the scorn of thousands of fans anyway, but a large return would help dull the pain.
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