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Jonathan Lucroy Vetoes Trade: Is David Stearns to blame?

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Jul 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) prepares to take the field to play the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) prepares to take the field to play the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Late last night it appeared that Jonathan Lucroy had joined the Cleveland Indians. However, with less than 24 hours remaining until the trade deadline, Lucroy remains a Brewer. While some can argue that the Brewers are better off with him, its undeniable that the attempted trade was mishandled. Is David Stearns responsible?

When news broke last night that Jonathan Lucroy had been dealt to the Cleveland Indians, it made sense for several reasons. First, Jonathan Lucroy had previously expressed his desire to escape the upcoming rebuild and join a team in a better position to compete. On this level, the Indians seemed to be a perfect fit as they are currently leading the A.L. Central by 4.5 games.

Secondly, Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes recently suffered a separated shoulder and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Also, Gomes was struggling with a .165/.198/.313 slash line. This presented win-win situations for everyone as Jonathan Lucroy would join a team primed for the playoffs; the Indians would have upgraded their catching situation for the stretch run and the Brewers are adding to the championship hopeful roster in 2021.

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However, early Sunday news broke that the trade had fallen through per Tom Haudricort,

According to ESPN the Brewers would have acquired catcher Francisco Mejia, outfielder Greg Allen, shortstop Yu- Chen Wang and reliever Shawn Armstrong. While it can be debated if this group of players would have been a sufficient haul for Lucroy based on Stearns previous moves it would seem that we have every reason to trust his talent evaluation.

While it may be easy to blame Jonathan Lucroy for preventing the influx of new talent into the organization, it was in his contractual right to prevent a trade to Cleveland. This was even clear to Stearns who according to Haudricort wasn’t surprised with Lucroy’s decision.

This then begs the question as to why Brewers management pursued a deal with Indians without getting the go ahead from Jonathan Lucroy? With speculation about his eventual destination taking place throughout much of this year and being withheld from the lineup in recent games, the team’s intentions had to be clear to Jonathan Lucroy.

If Cleveland had emerged as the front-runner in discussions,  Stearns should have initially asked Jonathan Lucroy about the possibility of lifting his no-trade clause. But instead of getting ahead of the situation Brewers management left fans watching another trade fall apart for the second year in a row.

Stearns now has less power in any negotiations because of this decision. The price to obtain Lucroy has been revealed, lessening the chance that someone would overpay for his services. If Stearns and Lucroy had a private conversation before the trade, he could have avoided an awkward situation for the organization.

Even if the GM was unable to strike a deal before the deadline, Stearns could have announced he wasn’t going to give away an all-star player simply for the rebuild. This would have set a precedent with GM’s around the league and given fans the feeling that Stearns was in control of the organization. Instead, we will wait and see if the front office can pull off a trade that will make us excited for the teams future.

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