Jonathan Lucroy Vetoes Trade to Cleveland

Around 11 p.m. EST last night, it looked like the Cleveland Indians had acquired catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers. Then, this morning, news broke that they’d gotten lefty reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees, too. And then… they didn’t have Lucroy anymore. Isn’t trade deadline season fun?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt had it first:

Perhaps the most important thing to understand here is that Lucroy had every right to do what he did, just as the Indians had every right to hold firm in their stance. See, Lucroy has a club option for 2017 that would pay him just $5.25 million, which is an absolute bargain. Lucroy knows this, and his agent knows this, and having the leverage to renegotiate your contract is the exact reason why players push for no-trade clauses in the first place.

Lucroy reportedly wanted the Indians to tear up that club option, effectively making him a half-season rental, so that he could hit 2017’s barren free agent market in four months and cash in. The Indians, understandably, were not willing to part with the same quartet of prospects for three months of Lucroy as they were for one year and three months of Lucroy, so they refused to negate the club option. The club option was a big reason why Lucroy was so valuable in the first place. The clubs reportedly will not renegotiate a lesser package, and talks appear to be dead.

Digging in a bit deeper from Lucroy’s standpoint, though, the choice seems a bit puzzling. Because let’s run through his alternatives. It’s possible Milwaukee is now unable to find a suitor for him before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and he remains a Brewer through the end of the year, at which point the club will immediately exercise his club option and he will not be a free agent. Or, it’s possible Milwaukee deals him to an inquiring club like the Rangers, Mets, or even Red Sox, none of which are on Lucroy’s no-trade list, meaning he’d be unable to restructure his contract, meaning they’d immediately exercise his club option and would still not be a free agent. Essentially, Lucroy’s not going to become a free agent in 2017 no matter where he winds up, and now he’s declined the opportunity to play for the American League favorites, which flies in the face of his prior vocal desire to play for a winner. The only possible scenario where Lucroy gets his wish of 2017 free agency would be a trade to Detroit, under the condition that Detroit would be willing to pull from it’s already barren farm system for a rental, which has seemed doubtful all along and even moreso now, given Lucroy’s demands.

There’s some rumors floating out there that the Indians couldn’t promise Lucroy playing time in 2017 with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez still in the fold which played a role in Lucroy’s decision, but those seem somewhat dubious, given Lucroy’s status as an unquestioned top-three catcher in the game and the recent struggles of Indians catchers. Perhaps more likely is that Cleveland was unable to promise Lucroy that they wouldn’t simply flip him in the offseason, which seemed like a strong possibility from the get-go, and Lucroy wasn’t interested in being traded again so soon.

Anyway, Dave Cameron will have more on this soon, and I’m sure more details will come out in the ensuing days. For now, we’re left with a reminder that not only can you not predict baseball, but you can’t predict baseball’s trade deadline, either.

August used to cover the Indians for MLB and, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at

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7 years ago

So now they have until the deadline to work out a deal in which Cleveland sends less, still gets Lucroy, and he becomes a free agent. He was *lucky* that the main team pursuing him happened to be on his no-trade list.