• Past, present players set for Brewers On Deck
Lucroy had attended every year since breaking into the big leagues. His absence comes at a time his name is prominent in trade rumors as Brewers GM David Stearns continues a rebuild that has seen seven Major League players traded away since mid-July, all for prospects or payroll flexibility. Lucroy, two years removed from finishing fourth in National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting and signed through 2016 with a club option for '17, is among the remaining players who could be dealt before the end of his current contract.
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"The reason why I'm not coming is I have a 5-year-old daughter in gymnastics and dance, and it's important for me to spend time with her as much as I can before I leave to get started for the season," said Lucroy, who lives with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Ellia, in Louisiana.
Despite coming off a down year in which he was limited to 103 games by a broken toe on his left foot early in the season and a concussion in September, Lucroy is a relative bargain thanks to a contract he signed in March 2012, when he was just entering his second full season. He's due $4 million in 2016 with a $5.25 million club option for '17. Lucroy turns 30 in June.
The Rangers were mentioned during last month's Winter Meetings as a potential suitor for Lucroy, but reportedly the teams did not agree on fair value. The D-backs are another potential fit, especially after signing free-agent starter Zack Greinke, who is a fan of Lucroy's work.
Stearns has stayed mum about interest from other teams.
"I think we have a number of players to continue to generate a lot of interest, but it's going to take meaningful value for us to move players who can contribute to real success here in Milwaukee," Stearns said. "A lot of the guys who are rumored out there have a lot of value to our organization."
Has Stearns discussed the matter with Lucroy?
"We have," Stearns said. "Jonathan and I have talked during the course of the offseason. He understands this is part of the business. As far as being a baseball player, he's a competitive guy, and he wants to play well, and he wants to win.
"My sense from talking to him is he was a very competitive individual who does want to win. That's the type of player we want. We want players who don't like to lose and who take a great deal of pride in winning."
If Lucroy is not traded, he would help anchor the Brewers' rebuild. The team's starting rotation is comprised mostly of inexperienced pitchers; only Matt Garza and Wily Peralta have logged multiple full seasons in the Major Leagues.
Asked how he feels about that scenario, Lucroy said, "Honestly, the guys we've gotten in return are all young players, so they're not going to make an impact in the big leagues for at least two to three years. Just being realistic, it's going to be tough to be competitive in that division until those guys we have traded for get to the big leagues and we're able to use our full arsenal to compete. That's reality, you know?"
Brewers pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on Feb. 19. Their first formal workout is two days later.
Tickets to the Brewers On Deck event are available at brewers.com/ondeck.