The NL Central-leading Cubs are suddenly in an unfavorable position behind the plate, where they’ll go without injured star Willson Contreras for about a month. With the trade deadline having passed and short-lived Cubs reserve Martin Maldonado now a member of the Astros, Chicago’s lacking avenues to bolster its depth at catcher. The Angels are set to release veteran Jonathan Lucroy, though, and the Cubs have shown interest in the two-time All-Star, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Although Lucroy has gone through a rough couple years since his halcyon days with the Brewers and Rangers, the Cubs aren’t in position to be choosy at his spot. Victor Caratini, who has taken over for Contreras, has performed well this season and may have what it takes to hold the position down for the next few weeks. But the Cubs are without a remotely established backup for Caratini, who only has the untested Taylor Davis behind him on the team’s 40- and 25-man rosters. The 29-year-old Davis has picked up a meager 36 plate appearances at the major league level since he debuted in 2017, and he hasn’t provided much offense in the minors over the past couple seasons.
While Davis may not be the answer behind Caratini, the same could apply to Lucroy. Now 33 years old, Lucroy’s once-excellent hitting and formerly pristine pitch-framing skills have experienced severe drop-offs of late. After Lucroy struggled mightily with the Athletics in 2018, he joined the Angels over the winter on a $3.35MM guarantee in free agency. However, the Angels cut the cord on Lucroy after 268 trips to the plate and a gruesome injury he has since recovered from.
Although Lucroy’s 2019 offensive numbers (.242/.310/.371 – good for an 84 wRC+) are presentable for a catcher, he has declined into one of the game’s worst defenders behind the plate. The catcher-needy Cubs could nonetheless take a low-risk flier on Lucroy in hopes he’ll give them a better backup than Davis.