Former Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is a free agent as soon as the off-season starts. Could the Brew Crew bring back Lucroy for a second run? It’s not impossible, but a few moves need to happen first.
Jonathan Lucroy became a fan favorite during his time in Milwaukee, but it was clear that he needed to go for the team to start the rebuild in 2016. Lucroy was dealt at the ’16 deadline to the Texas Rangers for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell. Ortiz and Brinson appear just about ready to figure into the 25-man roster. Cordell was flipped to the White Sox for Anthony Swarzak. Now that the arrow is pointed up for the Brewers, it may be time for Lucroy to come back to Milwaukee. Here’s how it could happen:
Deal or non-tender Stephen Vogt
Stephen Vogt is essentially a poor man’s, left-handed version of Jonathan Lucroy. Keeping Vogt and adding Lucroy makes them both redundant on the roster. Neither is good enough behind the dish to play catcher every day, and there aren’t enough available games at first base to keep both happy. Vogt needs to go before Lucroy can return.
Deal or DFA Jesus Aguilar
We’ve already covered a possible deal involving Aguilar, but he would need to go for Lucroy to get enough opportunities to play first when he’s not catching.
Keep Ryan Braun
If Lucroy comes back to the Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun needs to stay. Signing Lucroy means the Brewers are making another run at a division title. The Cubs appear vulnerable with a mediocre pitching staff that’s losing two starters and it’s closer. If the Brewers make a splash, it signals that they’re ready to aim for the postseason. Braun simply makes the every day lineup better, and he’s not going anywhere if the team decides to start spending again.
Add arms, even if they cost money
The Milwaukee Brewers can’t stop with just bringing back Lucroy. Adding Lance Lynn, Tyler Chatwood and a reliever or two also needs to happen. The Brewers have three starters that are at least ‘trustable’ in Chase Anderson, Brandon Woodruff, and Zach Davies. Jimmy Nelson is a huge question mark. Adding at least two free agent arms to round out the staff would help the team avoid having to bring back Brent Suter or Paolo Espino if there’s an injury.
The Milwaukee Brewers are still in rebuild mode, and it’ more likely they make a few low cost / low risk signings to fill out the roster, and wait for the rest of the kids. It’s nice to think about the ‘what-if’ of Lucroy returning, but given the Brewers direction, it’s not a move that fans should expect any time soon.