Posted on August 5, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the biggest storylines leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline was former Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy exercising his no-trade clause to block a trade that would have sent him to the Cleveland Indians before ultimately being traded to the Texas Rangers. There was a great amount of speculation surrounding Lucroy for weeks, and plenty of criticism pointed towards him after he vetoed a trade to Cleveland. After all that drama, Lucroy is now telling the story from his perspective, doing so in a self-written post that was published at ESPN.com on Friday.
Lucroy states that when Milwaukee GM David Stearn first told him he had been traded, he assumed it was to a team that wasn’t on his no-trade list, as Stearn told Lucroy he couldn’t share the destination until all the medical reports on the players involved had been approved. “Based on what I’d seen online and what I heard from my agent, I knew the Mets, Indians, Dodgers and Rangers had shown interest. Cleveland was the only one of those teams on my no-trade list, so I ruled that out,” Lucroy explains.
Of course, it was the Indians that had worked out a deal for Lucroy. “My agent, Doug Rogalski, found out it was the Indians that traded for me. I was surprised, but I wanted to keep an open mind,” he writes. Lucroy goes on to say that he was immediately concerned about next season, knowing that Cleveland’s current catcher, Yan Gomes, who is currently on the DL, is younger than him and makes more money than he does. “We knew they’d probably want him catching almost every day next year. Heck, if I were the general manager in Cleveland, I’d want Gomes catching every day.”
When Cleveland gave Lucroy no assurance that he’d be the team’s catcher in 2017, adding that there was little chance they’d waive his option for next season, Lucroy knew he wasn’t going there, and his agent agreed. “Cleveland fans don’t like that part, but it’s nothing against them. It wasn’t personal,” writes Lucroy, who adds that he respected the Indians for being honest with him.
“My decision not to go to Cleveland had nothing to do with the team, but it had everything to do with my future in this game. It was an economic decision. Period. I have to look out for my family’s best interests and my interests as a catcher who’d be going into 2018 not having played my position the previous year.” That is why Lucroy blocked the trade and returned to waiting out the deadline to see if anything else would happen.
After the trade to Cleveland fell through, Lucroy didn’t start Sunday’s game for the Brewers, although he was called upon to pinch hit. “It was a day before the trade deadline, and no one knew if I was wearing a Brewers uniform for the last time. I got a standing ovation, and it meant a lot to me. I dug into the batter’s box, and I was in limbo. I figured if this is my last at-bat here, it’s my last at-bat. If not, we’ll see what happens. I flied out. It wasn’t much of a storybook ending.”
Fast forward to Monday afternoon when Lucroy was in Chicago, minutes away from boarding a plane to San Diego, where the Brewers were playing their next series. Just 10 minutes before the deadline, his agent called him to tell him there were reports that he was going to the Rangers, the team that had been Lucroy’s top choice all along. Minutes later, Stearn called him to notify Lucroy that the trade to Texas was a done deal. “I called my parents. I called my agent. Jon Daniels, the Rangers general manager, called me and said he was glad I was joining the team. Less than an hour earlier, I didn’t know what was happening, and now I wound up getting traded to the team with the best record in the American League.”
Lucroy left Chicago and made his way back to Milwaukee to pack up some of his stuff in the Brewers clubhouse. Stearn met him at one of the stadium’s entrances to shake his hand and say goodbye. After saying goodbye to his wife, Lucroy was soon on his way to join the Rangers.
The new Texas catcher goes on to write about his past experiences playing for a contending team late in the season. He writes that he hasn’t been to the playoffs since his first full season in the big leagues in 2011, and how that he has learned not to take chances to play in the postseason for granted. He also writes about wanting to prove the Rangers right for taking a chance on him.
“Texas made a sacrifice to bring me in. They gave up some good prospects. By making that sacrifice, they’re telling me they need me here to win. When a player’s on a team, wherever it is, you want to have that wanted and needed feeling. It makes you feel like you’re part of something. We aren’t in the playoffs yet, but we have all the pieces. I’m already falling in love with this roster.”
In closing what is a thoughtful and telling story, Lucroy writes: “I know I had nothing to do with the Rangers getting to where they are now, but I want to have a lot to do with finishing the job.”