New Red Sox Catcher Jonathan Lucroy: ‘I Feel a Lot Better Than I Have in a Long Time’

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy is entering uncharted territory as he enters his 13th season in professional baseball. That being a veteran on a minor-league deal when just a few years ago you could argue he was one of the top catchers in the game.

When speaking to reporters at JetBlue Park for the first time on Thursday, the 33-year-old backstop did not make light of how he ended up in his current predicament.

“It’s a little strange,” Lucroy said on attending big league camp as a non-roster invite. “This is the first time I have had to do this. But, it’s OK. It’s just a part of the business side of baseball. Honestly, it’s what I deserve. I haven’t played good. So, it’s kind of where we’re at. You make your bed, you got to sleep in it. It’s just something I have to deal with and that’s OK. It’s a part of life.”

Spending last season with the Angels and Cubs, Lucroy posted an unimpressive .232/.305/.355 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games played. He also ranked as one of the worst defensive catchers who caught at least 500 innings, according to FanGraphs.

The Florida native did miss time last year due to a broken nose and concussion, and he underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that he discussed in detail on Thursday.

“I had a herniated disc in my neck the past three years,” said Lucroy. “I’d like to sit here and make excuses to say that was the reason I haven’t played good, but I’m not going to. It did effect me, but I got it taken care of and I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.”

Going back to his days with the Brewers, Lucroy does have some familiarity with Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke, who served as Lucroy’s skipper from 2011 until May 2015.

“I’ve known Ron for a long time,” Lucroy said. “We had a lot of good times together. He’s a really good guy, a really good manager. He’s a quality pickup for the Red Sox. Speaking from experience with him, he’s a huge positive for the Red Sox for sure.”

Lucroy also said that before signing with Boston, he received a call from Roenicke to essentially recruit him.

“He called me and wanted me to come,” Lucroy said of Roenicke. “He was like ‘Look, you got an opportunity here. You come here and you got an opportunity to make a team’ and right now, that’s all you can ask for as a guy in my position.”

The two-time All-Star also mentioned how enticing it was to get the chance to work with Jason Varitek, as the former Sox captain “is very respected in the catching world.”

The road for Lucroy to break camp on Boston’s Opening Day roster is not an easy one, with the club already having former Mets and Indians backstop Kevin Plawecki on its 40-man roster and on a guaranteed deal for the 2020 season, albeit for only $900,000.

Lucroy did not sound all that concerned about playing time in the majors for the time being though, as he emphasized how he has to “make the team first and contribute where he can to help the [Red Sox] win.”

For someone who has the kind of résumé Lucroy does, you might think he would be one to feel disrespected by the notion of not receiving a major-league contract offer, but as previously mentioned, he was brutally honest about his recent performance over the last few years.

“Analytically, I’ve been terrible,” he said. “Seriously, I’m not trying to make excuses. So, I’m not surprised I didn’t get a big league offer. Not at all.”

If he is able to regain some of the form he put on display during the middle parts of the previous decade, Lucroy could be an intriguing addition to a Red Sox team that dealt Sandy Leon to the Indians back in December.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lucroy would earn $1.5 million if he plays in the majors this season. He will be wearing the No. 12.

Red Sox Reportedly Add Jonathan Lucroy on Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with free-agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The deal is pending a physical and includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Lucroy, 33, will join Jett Bandy and Juan Centeno as veteran backstops the Sox have added on minor-league pacts this offseason.

The two-time All-Star slashed .232/.305/.355 with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games between the Angels and Cubs last year.

Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Lucroy underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that had been bothering him for ‘a couple years.’

Back in July, when he was with the Angels, Lucroy was left with a concussion and broken nose and had to be taken to a local hospital after colliding with then-Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick at home plate in Houston. He was sidelined for a little more than three weeks because of it.

A former third-round pick of the Brewers back in 2007, Lucroy should have some familiarity with the Red Sox already, as interim manager Ron Roenicke was his manager in Milwaukee from the start of the 2011 season until May 2015.

Lucroy also has some experience as a first baseman, and is expected to report to Fenway South on Wednesday for his physical, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

 

Red Sox Have ‘Expressed Interest’ in Padres Catching Prospect Luis Campusano in Mookie Betts Trade Talks, per Report

In discussions with the San Diego Padres revolving around the idea of trading star outfielder Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have reportedly ‘expressed interest’ in acquiring Padres catching prospect Luis Campusano in any potential deal, per The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.

Campusano, who turned 21 last September, was listed as the fifth-best prospect in San Diego’s farm system and the seventh-best catching prospect in baseball at the end of the 2019 season, according to MLB.com.

The former 2017 second-round pick out of Cross Creek High School in Georgia put together an impressive campaign in his second full professional season last year, slashing .325/.396/.509 with 15 home runs and 81 RBI over 110 games played for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm. He was named co-MVP of the California League for his efforts back in August.

In the Arizona Fall League, Campusano, along with other Padres prospects, played for the Peoria Javelinas, the same team the Red Sox were affiliated with.

In an organization that is full of quality prospects, Campusano might not garner the same attention that others such as MacKensie Gore or Luis Patino do, but he is an exciting player nonetheless.

“He’s really special,” Lake Elsinore hitting coach Doug Banks said of Campusano in an interview with Baseball America last June. “He does some special things. There’s things he can do because he’s just so talented. For him to do what he’s doing at his position, catching, being as young as he is, it really is incredible.”

Any deal that involves Betts heading to San Diego would most likely involve the Red Sox getting multiple pieces, prospects and major-league players alike, in return, such as 29-year-old outfielder Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three seasons.

Because Betts is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter, it is safe to say that Padres general manager AJ Preller would be unwilling to move a prized prospect like Gore for what could turn out to be just a one-year rental.

That’s where players like Campusano come in. The 79th-ranked prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100 list would easily become one of the three best prospects in the Sox’ system.

San Diego may value the young backstop highly, but with veteran catcher Austin Hedges and former top catching prospect Francisco Mejia already on the active roster, Campusano could be expandable. Especially for a player of Betts’ caliber.

On Thursday, Lin reported that an agreement between the Red Sox and Padres was viewed as ‘unlikely’ so there is still a possibility that nothing comes from all this speculation. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

 

Red Sox Bring Back Jaun Centeno on Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have brought back veteran catcher Juan Centeno on a minor-league contract for the 2020 season, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invitation to major-league spring training.

Centeno, 30, appeared in just seven games for Boston last year after being called up at the beginning of September when rosters expanded. In those seven contests, the Puerto Rico native went 2-for-15 (.133) with two walks and two RBI while catching 34 innings behind the plate, per FanGraphs.

While with Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Centeno slashed .248/.321/.350 with four home runs and 40 RBI over 81 games played.

In Centeno, the Red Sox have acquired additional catching depth to supplement fellow veteran backstop Jett Bandy, who was brought in on a similar minor-league deal last month. Those two will more than likely compete for a starting role with the PawSox once pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in February.

And since Bandy and Centeno are both out of minor-league options, they will have to be exposed to waivers if the Red Sox plan on bringing either of them up and sending them back down at any point this season.

Red Sox Catching Prospect Elih Marrero Suspended 50 Games

Red Sox catching prospect Elih Marrero has been handed down a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball for violating the Minor League Drug Treatment and Prevention Program. Per a press release, the 22-year-old tested positive for the banned stimulant Amphetamine.

Selected by Boston in the eighth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla, Marrero slashed .205/.267/.311/ with one home run and 18 RBI over 35 games between Low-A Lowell and High-A Salem this past season.

Per SoxProspects.com, Marrero is ranked as the No. 6 catching prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

With Salem placing Marrero on the restricted list Friday, the switch hitting backstop is set to miss the first 50 games of their season, meaning he would not be eligibe to return until late May.

Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of Coral Gables High School back in 2015, Marrero is the son of longtime major-league catcher Eli Marrero, who spent parts of 10 big-league seasons between the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets.