Free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy is staying in the AL West, albeit not with the Athletics. According to both Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan and Fancred’s Jon Heyman, the backstop has inked a one-year, $3.35 million contract (plus incentives) with the Angels for the 2019 season. The team has yet to officially announce the deal.
Lucroy, 32, is coming off of a one-year, $6.5 million gig with Oakland, during which he batted .241/.291/.325 with 26 extra-base hits, a .617 OPS, and career-worst 0.6 fWAR through 454 plate appearances. He didn’t look great behind the plate, either, where he finished with a .990 fielding percentage and 72 stolen bases, the most allowed by any major-league catcher in 2018.
While he failed to live up to the .292-average, 4.6-fWAR bar he set back in 2016, Lucroy was often commended for his leadership capabilities and became instrumental in guiding the club’s fragmented, oft-injured pitching staff to the playoffs. Once the A’s were unceremoniously bumped from the postseason, however, it proved rather difficult to put a price on those kinds of intangibles, and reports surfaced that contract negotiations had stalled with the two sides roughly $2.5 million apart. Now, Lucroy is positioned to take the reins behind the dish in Anaheim and will round out the Angels’ current catching trio alongside José Briceño and Kevan Smith.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.