7:35pm: The Indians have spoken to the Brewers about both Lucroy and left-handed reliever Will Smith, according to Crasnick (on Twitter). A left-handed reliever has long been said to be one of Cleveland’s top priorities, so the addition of Smith to talks is natural and one that we’ve speculated upon in the past. The 27-year-old Smith was in the mix to be Milwaukee’s closer but suffered a freak knee injury in Spring Training and missed upwards of two months due to a partially torn LCL. He somewhat improbably avoided surgery and is back in the Milwaukee ’pen, with a 3.72 ERA and an 18-to-8 K/BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings. Smith took his game from solid relief arm to lights-out lefty last season when he posted a 2.70 ERA with 12.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings and is controllable through 2019.
6:10pm: The Brewers’ trade talks surrounding catcher Jonathan Lucroy are picking up, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter). The Indians, Rangers, Mets, Astros and Red Sox have all been mentioned in connection with Lucroy, Crasnick notes, and offers being made by other clubs have become more serious recently. Crasnick adds that the the ever-popular “mystery team” may have entered the mix as well.
While that typically leads to a large amount of speculation, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports may have quickly shed some light on the matter, reporting that the Tigers are a somewhat surprising new entrant into the Lucroy market. He hypothesizes that Detroit could offer James McCann to the Brewers in a similar manner to the Mets’ reported offer of Travis d’Arnaud, though Milwaukee will want more than that in exchange. The Brewers, per Rosenthal, are seeking high-end prospects back in addition to any catcher that is offered in exchange for Lucroy.
While there’s a common belief that Lucroy will indeed be traded prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, Rosenthal writes that the Mets feel that Milwaukee is “overreaching” in its asks for Lucroy, while AL West contenders like the Astros and Rangers are more focused on adding pitching depth than a catcher at this time. Houston is also looking at other backstops, he notes, so it’s not a guarantee that even if they move for a catcher, Lucroy would be the target. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that the Rangers have yet to show serious interest in Lucroy and consider adding a catcher to be a “luxury” at this point, as pitching depth remains their primary focus. Those tweets came prior to Texas’ acquisition of Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez from the Braves, but one would assume that those two arms alone have not ended the Rangers’ search for pitching upgrade.
Lucroy, who turned 30 last month, is hitting .301/.362/.486 with 13 homers, 16 doubles and three triples on the season while playing excellent defense. He’s earning a modest $4MM salary in 2016 (of which about $1.46MM remains), and his contract contains an exceptionally affordable $5.25MM club option for the 2017 campaign.