The Rangers and Jonathan Lucroy have tabled negotiations about a contract extension, the catcher tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). It isn’t known whether the two sides will re-open talks prior to Opening Day or afterwards. Since many players prefer to avoid having contract talks carry into the season, it could mean that the Rangers have only a small window remaining to work out an extension with Lucroy or else he’ll explore free agency next winter.
Lucroy, who turns 31 in June, is entering the last season of a five-year, $11MM extension signed when he was a member of the Brewers in March 2012. Even with the Rangers exercising their club option on Lucroy for 2017 to add an extra $5MM to that total, Lucroy clearly far outperformed that deal by becoming one of the game’s best catchers. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projects Lucroy as the best available position player (and fifth-best free agent overall) in terms of earning potential in his most recent Power Rankings of the 2017-18 free agent class.
Obviously the Rangers would have an interest in continuing their association with Lucroy, though there hasn’t been that much buzz about talks between the two sides. GM Jon Daniels said in late December that only some “informal” chats had taken place, and more serious negotiations had yet to begin as of just a month ago. Also, the Rangers recently signed backup Robinson Chirinos to an extension through the 2018 season with a club option for 2019. While Chirinos’ deal is modest enough that he could easily still fit as Lucroy’s understudy, it is perhaps telling that Texas has already struck a move to secure a Plan B should Lucroy depart.
It has been a very busy day for Rangers extension news, with this Lucroy item joining an agreement between Texas and Rougned Odor on a six-year, $49.5MM extension and reports of talks between the Rangers and Nomar Mazara about a multi-year commitment.