A day after Jonathan Lucroy turned down a trade to the Indians (as he was allowed to do because of his no-trade clause) he was on the move as the Rangers acquired him and power reliever Jeremy Jeffress in a trade that sent Milwaukee their No. 2 and No. 3 prospects and a player to be named.
UPDATE: On Sept. 5, the Brewers announced they received infielder/outfielder Ryan Cordell as the player to be named.
Jonathan Lucroy, c
Jonathan Lucroy fixes what has been the black hole of the Rangers lineup for years. Texas has not had an everyday catcher this year as they’ve tried to survive with a combination of Bryan Holaday, Bobby Wilson, Robinson Chirinos and Brett Nicholas. To put it charitably, the Rangers have given steady time to catchers who project more as No. 3 catchers at best. Lucroy immediately fixes that. He gives Texas an everyday catcher who is an above-average bat who is also an above-average defender who is one of the better pitch-presenters in the game.
|Jeremy Jeffress, rhp
Jeffress was once one of the best prospects in the Brewers system, back when he was a starter who could brush 100 mph. He moved to the bullpen eventually, was traded to the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade, was suspended for 150 games for two positive tests for marijuana and eventually had his contract sold to the Blue Jays. Everything finally clicked for Jeffress in 2014 after he signed with the Brewers. He’s been a very reliable reliever for Milwaukee for two seasons and adds another high-leverage arm to the Rangers bullpen with an ability to pitch anywhere from the seventh to the ninth.
Lewis Brinson, of
Lewis Brinson ranked 30th on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 prospect list. Brinson is a power/speed center fielder whose concerns are his ability to hit for average and get on base. Brinson doesn’t have to be even a league-average hitter to be a useful big leaguer, but if the improvements he’s made to his contact rate start paying off more, he could be more than that. Brinson’s stats this year are disappointing–he’s hitting .237/.280/.431 at Double-A Frisco, but scouts who have seen him are still very intrigued by the tools and what they see as modest improvements at the plate. By joining the Brewers, Brinson creates a fascinating competition that should play out over the next couple of years. He and Brett Phillips are both center fielders whose value diminishes if they slide over to a corner outfield spot.
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|Luis Ortiz, rhp
Luis Ortiz ranked 74th on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 Prospect list. He’s able to combined above-average stuff with very advanced control. Ortiz pitches off a plus fastball, but unlike most pitchers his age, he’s able to effectively work it armside and gloveside, hitting his spots. He also has a potentially plus slider and continues to work on developing an improving changeup. Ortiz carries plenty of weight on his 6-foot-3 frame. He missed some time last year with forearm tightness. Ortiz was the Rangers’ best starting pitching prospect and immediately joins Josh Hader at the top of the Brewers’ depth chart for pitching prospects.
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|Ryan Cordell, of/if
Cordell has spent 2016 playing the outfield, spending time in all three outfield spots since being an 11th-round pick out of Liberty in 2013. Previously heralded as a multi-positional option, Cordell played shortstop, third base and first base in 2015, but he’s best suited to the outfield, where he offers a power-speed combination and just enough range to make center field a potential home.
While he’s tall at a listed 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Cordell has a decent track record for making contact but has struck out at a higher rate in Triple-A than in the lower levels. He’s at 21.8 percent in 2016 but makes enough contact to produce solid power and has hit lefthanders (.819 OPS) and righthanders (.800) at a solid clip. His leveraged swing helps him produce above-average home runs power, and he’s an above-average runner and solid basestealer. He had not played since Aug. 2 after injuring his right ankle (officially labeled a sprain, according to BA Brewers correspondent Tom Haudricourt).
Cordell likely joins a crowded crew of Brewers young outfielders that includes fellow trade acquisitions Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana and Brinson, with Brinson the best center fielder of the group. They’re competing for two spots considering veteran Ryan Braun is signed through 2020.