Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers is one of the best catchers in baseball, despite the fact he had a down year in 2015. Prior to this past season he was an All-Star and finished fourth in NL MVP voting.
And though he would figure to be a big part of the Brewers' immediate future, the 29-year-old backstop has made it clear he would like to be traded out of Milwaukee. He is entering his seventh major league season and would like to play for a contender. The Brewers have not made the playoffs since 2011, Lucroy's first full MLB season.
"I want to win," he said. "It's not guaranteed that I'm going to win if I am traded. But I'm going to be a 30-year-old catcher (in June). I can't put numbers on how much longer I'm going to play, but as players we want to win. I don't care about the money; I just want to win. That's the bottom line."
Would Lucroy make sense in Washington? They already have Wilson Ramos and behind him Jose Lobaton. Their catching depth beyond those two is probably as good as it's ever been for the Nationals. They have another wave of veterans set to play at Triple-A Syracuse and a group of young prospects developing in the lower ranks. Catcher, it would seem, is not a need.
The Nationals would give Lucroy a better chance to win, but the question is whether he would give them a better chance to win. The Brewers are going to want prospects in any deal for Lucroy and he represents a short-term solution. He will make $4 million in 2016 and has a $5.25 million team option with a $25,000 buyout for 2017.
Now, one could make the argument Lucroy is an upgrade over Ramos. Ramos is usually among the best offensive catchers in baseball, but he wasn't great last season despite staying healthy for the first time since 2011. His .229/.258/.358 slash-line represented career-lows.
Lucroy also had a down-year, but hit .264/.326/.391 with a .717 OPS. Those struggles may be attributed to injuries, however, as he broke his toe and suffered a concussion in 2015. In 2014, Lucroy was brilliant with a .837 OPS, 13 homers, 69 RBI and a league-best 53 doubles.
If Lucroy hits like he did in 2014, then he would represent an upgrade at catcher for almost every team. The fact he wants to be dealt adds an interesting layer to this offseason, but the Nats do not appear desperate to make a move at his position.