For all of the talk about the Red Sox’s pitching needs, it’s rather interesting that one of the players most associated with Boston leading up to the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline resides behind the dish rather than on the mound.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks with Milwaukee sitting near the bottom of the National League standings. It seems like just a matter of time before the 30-year-old backstop is dealt, and it’s reasonable to wonder whether the Red Sox are interested.
In fact, there’s evidence to suggest they are.
The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported Thursday, citing multiple major league sources, that the Red Sox actually explored the possibility of trading for Lucroy as recently as last year, though the reported pursuit occurred before Dave Dombrowski took over as the club’s president of baseball operations.
It’s possible the Red Sox’s reported interest in Lucroy this season is all just smoke and mirrors, with the end game being an attempt by the Brewers to drive up the prize on their most sought after asset. One major league source even told Speier earlier this week the Red Sox’s primary focus with the Aug. 1 trade deadline looming has been on pitching and that he hadn’t heard the team was connected to Lucroy.
But the idea shouldn’t be written off. Blake Swihart’s injury — in addition to his move to left field — has stunted his development as a catcher, and Christian Vazquez still hasn’t produced offensively since being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Ryan Hanigan, meanwhile, has struggled to stay on the field, while Sandy Leon’s hot-hitting ways seem unsustainable given his career track record.
In short, there are questions looming over the Red Sox’s catching situation. And they extend beyond this season, in large because neither Swihart nor Vazquez has emerged as Boston’s catcher of the future like the organization envisioned. Lucroy comes with a team option just north of $5 million for next season, so acquiring him wouldn’t just bolster Boston’s roster for 2016. It would give the Red Sox their starting catcher for 2017.
The question, like it is with any deal, is whether the Red Sox would be willing to meet the Brewers’ demands, which presumably are high given Lucroy’s status as an offensively gifted two-time All-Star who’s still in his prime. But if the two can match up on something — Milwaukee also has some relievers that could pique Boston’s interest — the Red Sox might be inclined to pull the trigger.
Pitching remains the priority, sure. But creativity often breeds success.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images