The Cleveland Indians agreed on a deal late Saturday to acquire catcher Jonathan Lucroy, considered the best player readily available before Monday’s trade deadline, though Lucroy’s no-trade clause that allows him to block a move to Cleveland left the deal at an impasse early into Sunday morning, sources told Yahoo Sports.
While Lucroy has no apparent reason to turn down a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers to American League Central-leading Cleveland, his leverage is strong: He has a well-under-market $5.25 million club option on his deal for next season. Whatever tack Lucroy takes, Milwaukee and Cleveland clearly want to consummate a deal, and it is likely to get done.
The Brewers’ haul would be at least three prospects, according to a source. The centerpiece would be 20-year-old, switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia, who currently sports a 42-game hitting streak across two Class A levels and is renowned for his arm. Yu-Cheng Chang, also 20 and at High-A, is a power-hitting shortstop expected to stick at the position. Greg Allen, 23, was recently promoted to Double-A and fits the mold of the team general manager David Stearns is trying to build, with athleticism and high on-base tendencies.
The Indians, on the other hand, would receive perhaps the best all-around catcher in baseball, a two-time All-Star who hits for average and power, has caught 40 percent of attempted baserunners and is considered an elite pitch framer. Lucroy, 30, would head to Valhalla for catchers: Cleveland, where a rotation of Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin headline the pitching staff with the lowest ERA in the AL.
Cleveland owns the best record in the league, too, as well as the top run differential at plus-89. While the Indians’ offense has exceeded expectations, Lucroy’s presence should only help as he’s slotted in toward the top a lineup that already includes Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez and rookie Tyler Naquin, hitting .330/.393/.629.
Left on Cleveland’s wish list, according to sources: at least one reliever, particularly left-handed, to complement its overworked back-end trio of Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero. Before they do that, though, comes the far more important task: ensuring Lucroy ends up in an Indians uniform for a run into October that could make Cleveland’s incredible sporting year even better.