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Houston Astros Winter Trade Series: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy

joshcameron
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As the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings approaches, CTH will be debuting a Winter Trade Series on possible players the Houston Astros could acquire this winter.  This year’s meeting will be hosted in Nashville from December 7th to 10th.  Last year, the Astros acquired Evan Gattis whereas previous seasons the Astros were mostly quiet.  After getting within six outs from the ALCS, the Astros could very well be one of the most active teams in year’s meeting.  The first trade we will look at is the Astros acquiring Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

Former Astros Assistant General Manager David Stearns took over the Brewers as General Manager this past September. By hiring Stearns, the Brewers are signaling that they are going for a total rebuild similar to what the Astros began a few years ago.  That being said – almost any of the current Brewers is available to be traded this winter.  The Astros already acquired the Brewers former centerfielder Carlos Gomez at this past season’s trade deadline.

While Jason Castro continued to be a defensive asset for the Astros this past season, concerns about his batting ability also continued.  In 104 games this season, Castro batted just .211 with 11 homers.  This could cause the Astros to evaluate their options at catcher this offseason. Here’s an idea of a possible proposed trades between the two ball clubs:

Astros Receive: C Jonathan Lucroy

Brewers Receive: C Castro, 1B Singleton, and 3B Colin Moran

Why the Astros Should Make the Trade

Unfortunately, I don’t see Jason Castro making much improvement offensively moving forward.  His defensive ability is appreciated, but Lucroy would provide the Astros with a high contact hitter.  Outside of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, crush city really doesn’t have any high contact hitters.  Lucroy was limited this season due to injury, but he managed to hit 7 homers, 43 RBIs, while hitting .265 overall. However, in 2014 Lucroy finished fourth in the NL MVP voting by hitting 13 home runs, 69 RBIs, a staggering 53 doubles, while batting .301 overall.

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In Minute Maid Park, we could even see Lucroy’s home run total rise. He is signed through 2017 and will make $4 million next season along with $5.25 million in 2017. Therefore financially, the Astros are not putting themselves in a bad position.

The Astros would lose three prospects in this scenario.  But, none of them really have that much a spot to fill moving forward. Kemp is blocked by playing second base with the Astros locked in with Altuve.  The Astros have a surplus of third base prospects in Matt Duffy, Tyler White, and J.D. Davis allowing them to easily let go of Moran.  While many Astros fans have had high hopes for Singleton, A.J. Reed appears to be the first basemen of the future.  The Brewers on the other hand would receive three quality prospects in return.  A change of scenery for Singleton could reignite his potential.  The Brewers could also refill their catch position with Castro as they began their rebuild.

Why the Astros Should NOT Make the Trade

Lucroy will be turning 30 next season, and some believe the Lucroy will be better suited at first basemen in his career moving forward.  With the Astros desiring Reed to take over at first base, acquiring Lucroy might not make much sense.  It’s possible the Astros would just want Lucroy to play catcher for the final two years of his contract and then let him walk as a free agents while getting a draft pick for him.

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But, this is a lot of prospects to give up for just a two-year rental.  The Astros may be able to trade these same pieces for a much more impactful player such as a bullpen piece in a Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman.

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