MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Lucroy makes right call nixing trade to Indians

Lucroy makes right call nixing trade to Indians

Any reasonable person in Jonathan Lucroy's position would have done exactly what he did, which was to decline a trade to the Cleveland Indians.

Yes, the Indians are in first place in the American League Central and Lucroy's current employers, the Milwaukee Brewers, are in fourth place in the National League Central.

And yes, the proposed trade would have fit into both team's current profiles. The Tribe has been getting next to nothing offensively out of its catchers. Lucroy is hitting .299 with 13 home runs and an OPS of .841.

The Brewers are rebuilding and the Indians were offering a deal that would have included three of their Top 30 Prospects per MLBPipeline.com. Most prominent among those was catching prospect Francisco Mejia, ranked No. 4 among Cleveland's prospects.

Bastian on Lucroy blocking trade

The Tribe was one of the clubs on Lucroy's contractual no-trade list. He offered to waive the no-trade clause if the Indians met certain conditions. As confirmed by MLB.com, Cleveland did not agree to any of the conditions, so Lucroy declined to waive the no-trade clause.

This was, for Lucroy, a matter of equity, long-term security and a rare opportunity for economic leverage.

Lucroy, 30, is playing under a remarkably club-friendly contract, signed before he emerged as an elite catcher. He is now a complete player; offensively, defensively, and as an astute handler of pitchers.

Lucroy is being paid $4 million this year and his current contract concludes with a club option for $5.25 million in 2017. Contrast that with what other elite catchers are being paid this year:

Lucroy gets standing ovation

Buster Posey, $20 million. Brian McCann, $17 million. Matt Wieters, $15.8 million. Yadier Molina, $14 million.

Wilson Ramos, having a breakthrough season for the Nationals, is earning $5.35 million. Royals All-Star Salvador Perez is earning $2 million, but he is just 26, and in the last three years of a contract that runs through 2021, he is guaranteed $39.6 million.

By contemporary standards, Lucroy is grossly underpaid. He asked the Indians for financial incentives and they said no. Lucroy asked them to waive the club option portion of the contract and they said no.

What was equally damaging from Lucroy's point of view was that Cleveland would not guarantee that he would be its everyday catcher next season. That would be when catcher Yan Gomes would return to full health and, presumably, full effectiveness after suffering a shoulder separation.

Broadcast on Lucroy's trade veto

The last thing Lucroy would need in the final year of his contract would be to have his value deflated by anything less than regular playing time. Given all of these factors, his decision to decline the trade was not particularly surprising. It was, in fact, more in the realm of logical.

"When you're dealing with life-altering decisions like this, there are lots of different factors that come into play," Lucroy said Sunday.. "Mostly it's family, and the other half of that is your future in this game, your career. There are a lot of things to take in, and whenever those things don't line up, decisions have to be made that might be tough. That's the way it's got to be, because in my eyes, we have to look out for our best interests."

"I'm looking for long-term, not short-term gain. Short-term gain is great, but long-term is more important for me and my family's happiness, and that's what we're going to go with, no matter what."

Lucroy remains in play for a major Trade Deadline deal, with recent reports suggesting a deal between the Brewers and the Texas Rangers. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. CT.

Lucroy was held out of the Brewers' starting lineup for the third straight game Sunday, as a hedge against possible injury. But when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning of a 4-2 Milwaukee victory, the Miller Park crowd of 32,405 gave him a thunderous standing ovation.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.