FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are open to trading catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who is scheduled to hit free agency following the 2017 season. While the club has yet to confirm any such plans, Rosenthal hears that they would prefer to go with Robinson Chirinos and Triple-A backstop Brett Nicholas behind the dish rather than extend Lucroy a $17.2 million qualifying offer. Chirinos is set to remain under club control through 2019.
Lucroy, 31, is in his second season with the Rangers after coming over from the Brewers in a trade for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Ryan Cordell last July. He’s been fairly consistent at the plate, if a bit underwhelming, and entered Saturday batting .263/.311/.375 with 20 RBI and a .686 OPS through 241 plate appearances. Compared to his counterparts, however, Lucroy’s production rate feels lackluster, and a decline in his defensive skills behind the plate hasn’t helped his cause, either. Chirinos is sporting a .918 OPS and 12 home runs through his first 123 PA, one shy of his career single-season record, while Nicholas has been running rampant through the Pacific Coast League with a .316/.354/.478 batting line as he awaits his second major league stint.
According to Rosenthal, the team has shifted their priorities to the bullpen, which currently ranks fourth-worst in the American League with a collective 4.67 ERA and 0.7 fWAR. They acquired veteran right-hander Jason Grilli from the Blue Jays on Sunday and will likely continue to add pieces while Matt Bush takes a step back from the closer role.