Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported a couple of nights ago that the Mets have contacted Jonathan Lucroy this off-season in an article that also discussed some other possibilities the Mets have considered this off-season.
Lucroy, however, is the only one in the group of players discussed that does not make sense for the 2018 Mets.
The 31-year old hit .265/.345/.371 with six home runs and 40 RBIs that gave him a wRC+ of 82 this past season between the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.
While he fared better offensively in the second half, his defense did not. He finished with a net total of -4 defensive runs saved at the catcher position which is a far cry from the 10 he put up during his peak in 2014.
On top of it, he is not actually rated as strong of a defender as some have heralded him to be. In fact, he has finished with negative numbers in this category in four of his eight seasons to date.
The offense, though, is what makes him appealing to many, despite the off-year he had this past season. For his career, Lucroy has hit .281/.343/.433 with a wRC+ of 108.
From the catcher position, which is notorious for having weak hitting league-wide, those are very strong numbers.
However, in the last four seasons, he has finished below average offensively in all but one with a wRC+ above 100 only in 2016, which just happened to be the year the Mets tried to acquire him via trade from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The question now is whether Lucroy is even an upgrade and the answer to that, believe it or not, is actually no.
The two-time All-Star actually finished with only a 0.6 WAR this past season which is actually lower than Travis d’Arnaud‘s 1.2 WAR in 2017. On top of it, Kevin Plawecki, in only 37 games this past season, tied Lucroy in that category.
To be clear, d’Arnaud did not have that great of season himself. He hit .244/.293/.443 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs to give him a 91 wRC+.
He also finished better defensively with a net total of zero defensive runs saved in 2017, despite his well-known throwing issues.
Plawecki, meanwhile, hit .260/.364/.400 with three homers and 13 RBIs to give him a 106 wRC+ in his limited sample size of 100 at-bats.
So, why would the Mets have interest in Jonathan Lucroy?
Well, I could only speculate, but my guess is it either has to do with name value or the expectation that they might have to trade one of d’Arnaud or Plawecki to acquire help at another position.
After signing Jose Lobaton this off-season to a minor-league deal, though, it could even be argued that the latter would be deemed unnecessary.
So it is likely for name value with an excuse for it being that Lucroy has limited experience playing first base as well (47 games).
How much would the Mets have to pay for that?
Jon Heyman of the FanRag Sports Network projects Lucroy to get a two-year deal worth, $23 million.
It would make more sense, though, for the Mets to just stick with Plawecki and d’Arnaud next season, which combined, are going to earn less than that in 2018.
With a limited budget, signing a 30-year old catcher that does not offer an obvious upgrade to the current situation makes little sense for the organization as they have much bigger needs to address.