In an as-told-to with ESPN's Robert Sanchez Friday morning, Texas Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy detailed the events of last weekend when the Cleveland Indians had a deal in place to acquire him from the Milwaukee Brewers but it wound up being vetoed by his no-trade power. There is not a whole lot of new information found in the piece, but it affirms something that a lot of Indians fan may already be thinking: He did us a huge favor.
In the post, the All-Star catcher touches on the process that went down Saturday night following the Brewers' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates -- what would end up being his final game in Milwaukee -- and how he found out about being traded to an unknown team while the Brewers front office worked out medicals. When he did find out it was the Indians, he states that he was surprised and his agent had some bad news. The Indians could not guarantee he would be the starting catcher in 2017.
We knew Cleveland already had a good catcher, Yan Gomes, who's injured right now. He's getting paid more than me, and he's younger than me. We knew they'd probably want him catching almost every day next year. Heck, if I were the general manager in Cleveland, I'd want Gomes catching every day.
Lucroy is, of course, in his right to use the no-trade clause he negotiated into his contract five years ago, but his reasoning still seems weak to me. Essentially, he is saying he does not think he can beat out a rapidly declining catcher who has not hit an average rate in almost two years because the other catcher is "younger" (by less than a year) and "getting paid more" than him (which isn't true in 2017). Yes, Gomes is signed for much longer, but he was already occasionally losing playing time early in the season to Roberto Perez, who started four games between April 14 and April 30 prior to his thumb injury.
Gomes was the everyday starter in Cleveland prior to his own injury, but only out of necessity. The idea that the Indians would not start Lucroy over him in 2017 is insanity.
Demanding the team you are being traded to say that you are going to be the everyday starter is a slippery slope in the first place. What if Chris Antonetti did guarantee such a thing, then Lucroy's production suddenly drops off a cliff when he arrives in Cleveland. Would they still need to keep that promise to keep Lucroy happy? The way I see it, Antonietti took the realistic route of not guaranteeing anything, but Lucroy would have had to at least prove he could beat out Yan Gomes in Spring Training next season. And if he did not think he could do that, that's Jonathan's problem. Not the Indians'.
Unless something dramatic and new happens, I hope to never write about this saga on Let's Go Tribe again, but it felt worth it to say thank you, Jonathan Lucroy. Thank you for vetoing the trade because you didn't think you could beat out the worst-hitting Indians batter in the last century for a starting job next season. Thank you for vetoing the trade and not bringing the clubhouse turmoil that would come if you were not the starting catcher next season, for any reason, and your agent got worried about your value in the offseason.
In the end, Jonathan Lucroy made the right decision for himself, the Rangers, the Indians, and our sanity.