JULY 21: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Cleveland, above all else, is still seeking to upgrade its bullpen, downplaying the Lucroy matchup. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, meanwhile, tweets that “you can bet relievers are a part of talks” between Cleveland and Milwaukee, as the Indians are focused on upgrading their bullpen as well. Nothing is imminent between Cleveland and Milwaukee, Jon Morosi of MLB.com adds, tweeting that the Brewers are discussing Lucroy with multiple teams.
JULY 20: The Indians and Brewers are in trade talks pertaining to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). Olney notes that it’s possible that yesterday’s setback for Michael Brantley (and, presumably, the injury to Yan Gomes) has urged Cleveland to add a hitter.
As I noted at the time of Gomes shoulder injury (which will sideline him for four to eight weeks), Cleveland has received less production from its catchers than any club in baseball this season. Cleveland backstops are hitting just .172/.219/.299, as Gomes has struggled even when healthy, and Chris Gimenez has provided little value with the bat despite receiving a good amount of praise for the work he’s done with the pitching staff (namely Trevor Bauer). Cleveland was reportedly content to deploy Gimenez and Roberto Perez behind the plate, though that seemed like a questionable claim at the time, and further injury to Brantley could certainly have contributed to the team’s desire to bolster the lineup.
Lucroy, 30, is having a tremendous bounce-back season, hitting .305/.362/.494 with 12 homers and excellent defense behind the plate. Last season’s concussion issues look to be in the rear-view mirror for Lucroy, who is earning a modest $4MM this season and has a no-brainer $5.25MM club option on his contract. While Olney’s report doesn’t indicate anything of the sort, Cleveland has also been linked to left-handed relief help, and Will Smith’s name has been bandied about the rumor mill for quite some time. A package of Lucroy and Smith makes plenty of sense for Cleveland’s front office, though that’s purely my own speculation at this juncture.