For the second consecutive trade deadline, Jonathan Lucroy is on the move, but this swap shows just how far he has fallen.
Last year, Lucroy was supposed to head to the Indians in a deal that would have brought back Top 100 Prospect Francisco Mejia, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang and outfielder Greg Allen. But Lucroy turned down the trade as was his right because of his no-trade clause. He ended up going to the Rangers with Jeremy Jeffress in a swap that brought Milwaukee back Top 100 prospect Lewis Brinson (No. 30 on the Baseball America 2016 Midseason Top 100 Prospects list), righthander Luis Ortiz (No. 74 on the 2016 Midseason Top 100) and outfielder Ryan Cordell.
This year Lucroy's OPS has plummeted by 250 points. But maybe even more importantly, Lucroy has gone from being one of the best pitch-framing catchers in baseball to one of the worst, which explains why he's being traded this year for a player to be named later, which turned out to be 19-year-old Pedro Gonzalez.
Jonathan Lucroy, c
Even in the midst of his worst season as a big leaguer, Lucroy provides help for a Rockies team that has struggled behind the plate.Tony Wolters, the Rockies' primary catcher, has hit .251/.349/.302, showing no power even with the help of Coors Field. Backups Ryan Hanigan, Dustin Garneau and Tom Murphy have been no better. If Lucroy can show any bounce back in a move to the National League, he allows Wolters to move into a backup role, which should help his bat as well. Wolters is just five games short of his career high in games caught with two full months of the season to go.
Pedro Gonzalez, of
Gonzalez, 19, ranked as the Rockies’ No. 24 prospect coming into 2017 and was repeating a level in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He’s been noted as toolsy since ranking as the No. 12 prospect in the 2014 international signing class. The Rockies signed him on July 2 that year for a $1.3 million bonus as a 6-foot-4, 160-pound shortstop.
High-waisted and long-levered, Gonzalez has outgrown shortstop and was playing center field everyday for Grand Junction prior to the trade. He has a projectable body that he’s filling out; he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. The Pioneer League’s composite slash line is .291/.369/.453; Gonzalez was batting .321/.388/.519 at the time of the trade, ranking second in the league in both doubles (16) and triples (six).
Gonzalez is an above-average runner to first base and plus underway with range in center field, and he could have the chops to stay there. His arm needs to improve for him to be a right fielder long term if he moves out of center, but his bat could play on a corner. While he’s raw offensively, Gonzalez has plus raw power and has the bat speed to catch up to good fastballs. He’ll always have holes in his swing at 6-foot-5, but he has the above-average tools and projectable body to have the ceiling of an above-average regular. He’s just a long, long way from that ceiling.
-- John Manuel
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