The Texas Rangers may be best served moving on from catcher Jonathan Lucroy rather than re-signing him.
Texas Rangers starting catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, is set to be a free agent this offseason. His pending status, combined with both his and the Rangers struggles, has caused many to call for a trade before the MLB deadline later this summer.
Much like the Rangers club itself, Lucroy hasn’t had the season he was hoping for. After a painfully slow start to the season, Lucroy is still just hitting .267 with 4 home runs. Now on the verge of free agency, the Rangers must decide if he’s worthy of re-signing.
Jonathan Lucroy is going to cost a bundle on the open market this winter. He may not be having the best season of his career but he’s still considered among the game’s best at a position starved for talent around the league.
The past is the past and all future decisions should be based on future returns.
What’s understandably mucking this decision up in the hearts and minds of Rangers fans, and possibly even the organization itself, is the cost Texas paid to acquire Lucroy in the first place.
The Rangers sent promising young prospects Luis Ortiz, Ryan Cordell, and Lewis Brinson to Milwaukee last summer. All three are slated to be legitimate MLB players, and Brinson is even drawning comparisons to a young Mike Trout. This deal cost Texas a lot.
The temptation will be to re-sign Lucroy and see this expensive acquisition through until it pays itself off. The futures of these promising prospects inevitably sneak their way into the minds of investors (the Rangers front office). By doing so, it clouds their judgment.
But these are what we call sunk costs and these should in no way influence the Rangers decision whether to keep or trade Lucroy. The past is the past and all future decisions should be based on future returns.
Cost Effective Alternatives
As reported by Evan Grant at the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers’ back-up catcher, Robinson Chirinos is having a pretty good season. Chirinos, a Ranger for the past five seasons, is hitting a career best .242 with a .333 OBP and .922 OPS (also both career bests and also both better than Lucroy’s). He already has 10 home runs this season, which is tied for his second most in a season, and he’s done so playing only 30 games.
While all of that is great, it’s his play behind the plate that’s worthy of the most attention. When Robinson Chirinos catches, pitchers have a 3.64 ERA and the Texas Rangers are 16-11 (all stats as of Sunday morning). That number is considerable better than the staff ERA when Lucroy is catching.
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Investing big in a 31-year-old player is never a wise thing unless that player is a pitcher, home run hitter, or named Adrian Beltre. Think the Rangers would like to un-do that Shin-Soo Choo deal? Lucroy is a good player and great teammate but sometimes it’s about the deals you don’t make.
And this is one you don’t make.
Sunk Costs are hard to ignore but the Texas Rangers must do just that when deciding their future with Jonathan Lucroy. They have to consider only what kind of returns he’ll bring in the future and at 31, those returns will likely be diminishing.