LA Angels: Grading Each Offseason Signing
By Vincent Page
C, Jonathan Lucroy
This signing for the Angels is the one that could be the ultimate bust or could prove to be the one that puts the Angels over the top and into the playoffs. While there is minimal risk in giving Lucroy $3.35 million for 2019, there is question as to how much the 32-year old can contribute to a team.
Last season, Lucroy’s offensive numbers dipped while he became a negative on the defensive side of the ball. With such a downward trend on defense, and a general manager in Billy Eppler who emphasizes defense, the signing was confusing at first. However, as Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic highlighted, the Angels believe Lucroy’s 2018 numbers were “more of an outlier than a regression” and are confident Josè Molina will be able to work out any kinks in his defensive game come Spring Training.
The biggest ability Lucroy brings to the Angels is not a physical one. His understanding of the game of baseball and pitching is amongst the best in the league. Without Lucroy catching games in Oakland last year, and leading a rotation of misfits, rookies, and openers, they would not have made the playoffs.
With the Angels pitching not where they’ve wanted it the past few years, Lucroy has the ability to upgrade the entire pitching staff just with his pure knowledge of game management and opposing hitters.
While the Lucroy signing does have potential to be great, expecting any player, even more so a catcher, past their prime comes back from their worst season yet is wishful thinking. Lucroy undoubtedly will help the pitching staffs, and a bounce back at the plate is highly possible given his hard hit rate went up last season, but the defensive metrics do not show Lucroy as a contributor anymore. While the small deal could still be beneficial, Lucroy will cause Halo fans to wish for Martin Maldonado back behind the plate a few times this season.