The Angels traded Martin Maldonado to the Astros during last season and have been a big player in the catching market this offseason. Lucroy is a budget alternative to Yasmani Grandal, while J.T. Realmuto remains a Miami Marlin.
Lucroy was one of the sport’s top catchers just a couple of years ago, but his numbers have declined drastically since. He was worth -0.7bWAR last season with a 71 OPS+. Defensively, despite rave reviews from the Athletics, his numbers were poor too. Lucroy ranked poorly as a pitch framer, with -3.7 framing runs per Baseball Prospectus.
From the highs of his days as Brewer and a Ranger, Lucroy’s stock has plummeted. The money is low, and it’s only a one-year commitment, so there’s very little to lose for the Angels. The only question about this decision is why they decided against Yasmani Grandal when there’s a clear need to add another big bat alongside Justin Upton, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels’ offseason has been an odd one already. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill were signed on one-year deals, and this Lucroy acquisition fits that pattern. Minimising risk is smart, particularly while Ohtani is unable to pitch, but this isn’t exactly selling them as a contender to Trout.
With Oakland impressing last season and the Astros still strong, it makes sense for LA to bide their time. Unfortunately, that time is Trout’s peak.
Lucroy, like Cahill and Harvey, could still be useful, and might have trade value come July, but they are not going to make them a 90-win team.
These are not decisions that make them real contenders in 2019. Lucroy could find his old self. Cahill could pitch out of his skin. Harvey could get back to his best. The most likely outcome, though, is that they are okay and nothing more, which would allow the Angels to get something for them at the deadline. That does not help Trout play in October.
It’s not just these signings that leave the Angels treading water. Despite having one of the all-time great players, Ohtani’s injury and Albert Pujols’ nightmare contract tie the front office’s hands. They are issues, of course, but neither problem is unsolvable for a team in as big a market as Los Angeles.
The wait to see Trout on a competitive roster continues.