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.

Brock Holt Bids Farewell to Red Sox in Touching Instagram Post

In case you missed it, former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt officially inked a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier Wednesday, meaning he will no longer be part of the organization he had spent the previous seven years with.

For both his work on and off the field, Holt emerged as a fan favorite in Boston, and he expressed his gratitude towards the city in a touching farewell Instagram post Wednesday.

“Boston. You turned a Texas boy into one of your own,” Holt wrote in the above caption. “It has been my absolute honor to play for your team and be a part of your city. Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will. I became a husband, a father, and a champion while playing for you.”

While with the Red Sox, the Texas native married his wife Lakyn in November 2013 and the two welcomed their first child, Griffin, in December 2016. He also played an integral role for the Sox during their historic run to a World Series title in 2018.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has been a part of this chapter with us,” Holt added. “And thank you for letting me be a part of yours. It was a damn good time!”

Since the start of the 2015 season, Holt had served as the Red Sox’ Jimmy Fund captain and was the club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions because of it.

The 31-year-old had become a steady veteran presence in Boston’s clubhouse over the last few years and seemed to have close relationships with several of his teammates, including Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez.

“He was a character in here,” Martinez said of Holt’s departure. “He was fun to be around. You wish him the best, but that’s the business side of it.”

As Holt wrote in his Instagram post, “Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will.” He will be missed and I am already looking forward to the Brewers’ trip to Fenway Park in early June.

Brock Holt Officially Signs With Brewers

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt has officially signed a one-year major-league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, thus putting an end to any hope the versatile 31-year-old could return to Boston in 2020.

Although it has not been revealed how much Holt will earn in 2020, his new contract with Milwaukee does include a club option for 2021, so it could in essence be a two-year deal depending on how the coming season pans out.

A former throw-in the trade that was headlined by reliever Joel Hanrahan going from the Pirates to the Red Sox, Holt had spent the previous seven seasons with Boston.

After making his Sox debut during an up-and-down 2013 campaign, the Rice University product emerged as a fan and clubhouse favorite beginning in 2014, a year in which he finished eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting while playing in a then-career-best 106 contests.

The 2015 season was when Holt really burst onto the scene though, as he hit for the cycle for the first time in his career on June 16th and was named to his first All-Star team a month later, being the only Red Sox player to get an All-Star nod that year.

Despite finishing in last place in the American League East for the second straight year in ’15, the Sox saw Holt become a valuable asset to their club both on and off the field.

In total, the former ninth-round pick played seven different positions over 129 games that year. It was also the first time he was recognized as the Red Sox’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for his work with the Jimmy Fund, an honor he would receive three more times in his Red Sox career.

2016 saw Holt miss a significant amount of time due to concussion issues. a trend that would carry over into 2017 in what was probably Holt’s most adverse season in the majors because of vertigo.

That Vertigo hampered Holt’s productivity in what was already an odd season for the Red Sox despite them winning 93 games and clinching their second straight American League East title.

In some eyes, perhaps the hiring of Alex Cora, combined with Holt playing in just 64 games the previous year, put the Texas native’s roster spot in jeaporady heading into the 2018 campaign.

With Blake Swihart seemingly a lock to make the Opening Day roster as both the club’s third catcher and a utility player, it looked as though one of the final spots on the Sox’ bench was going to come down to Holt or Deven Marrero.

Holt seemed prepared to be dealt if that is what it came down to, but Boston ultimately traded Marrero to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later who would turn out to be Josh Taylor.

With those trade rumors behind him, Holt got back to his consistent ways for the Sox in 2018, slashing .277/.362/.411 with seven home runs and 46 RBI over 109 games played.

That October, Holt played a crucial role for the Sox in their run to a historic World Series title. He even hit for the first postseason cycle ever in a dominating 16-1 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Trade rumors were still swirling a little bit in Holt’s final offseason before reaching free agency, but he stuck around once more and proved to be one of the better hitters on the 2019 Red Sox.

Yes, the one-time All-Star slashed .297/.369/.402 with three home runs and 31 RBI over 87 games last season, all while maintaining his role as an important veteran presence and player to look up to.

Perhaps he played his way out of the Red Sox’ price range, but the hope had been all offseason that Holt would find his way back to Fenway South this month.

That did not happen though, which is somewhat understandable given the influx of infielders Boston currently has on their 40-man roster.

Still, you cannot deny the impact Holt had on the community in Boston. He cared deeply about his role as Jimmy Fund captain, he spent his offseasons in nearby Needham, and he may have been holding out, waiting for one last offer from the Red Sox before ultimately signing with the Brewers.

You can argue that Holt’s value on the baseball field can be replaced by the group made up of Jonathan Arauz, Michael Chavis, and Jose Peraza, but that does not mean that Holt will not be missed by staff, players, and fans alike.

So, thanks for everything, Brock. Best of luck in Milwaukee. You will be missed in Boston.

 

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 Bring Back Mitch Moreland on One-Year Deal

The Red Sox have brought back free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland on a one-year, $3 million deal for the 2020 season. In a corresponding move, right-handed pitching prospect Denyi Reyes was designated for assignment in order to make room for Moreland on the 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Tuesday.

According to The Athletics’ Ken Rosenthal, Moreland’s new contract will net him $2.5 million in 2020 and also includes a $3 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021.

The 34-year-old veteran had spent the previous three seasons with Boston after agreeing to a one-year, $5.5 million deal in December 2016 and a two-year, $13 million deal in December 2017.

Most recently, Moreland slashed .252/.328/.507 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI over 91 games in an injury-riddled campaign this past season.

Since free agency began at the beginning of November, bringing back Moreland always seemed like an appealing option even with the influx of infielders the Red Sox have.

With Moreland returning, the Sox get a familiar veteran presence back at a time when it will more than likely be needed under a new manager. They now also have the ability to platoon the Mississippi native, a left-handed bat, with either of Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec, both right-handed bats, at first base.

Dalbec, the Sox’ No. 2 prospect, might need more time at Triple-A Pawtucket at the start of the season for development or service time purposes, so there will be no need to rush the 24-year-old up now.

Chavis, meanwhile, has the opportunity to hover around the field now without committing to a single position, as noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

As for the other side of this move, Denyi Reyes was ranked as Boston’s No. 26 prospect on MLB.com

The 23-year-old right-hander was a surprising addition to the 40-man roster in November 2018 given how he had yet to pitch past the High-A level.

Making 26 starts for Double-A Portland last year, Reyes posted a 4.16 ERA and .243 batting average against over 151 1/3 innings pitched.

Presumably, the Red Sox would like Reyes to sneak through waivers so that he can remain with the club in a non-40-man roster spot capacity.

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.

Former Red Sox Utilityman Brock Holt Garnering Interest From Blue Jays in Free Agency, per Report

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt is reportedly drawing interest from the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

This news comes two days after it was reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale Jr. that the Reds were “one of the teams interested” in acquiring the 31-year-old’s services.

Holt, who has spent the previous seven seasons with Boston after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a December 2012 trade, is a free agent for the first time in his career.

A fan-favorite in Boston for what he has done both on and off the field, Holt has expressed interest in a reunion with the Sox, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom even said at the Winter Meetings last month that what the Jimmy Fund captain has done for the community “has not been lost on any of us.”

However, bringing Holt back now seems out of the question due to the influx of infielders the Red Sox currently have on their 40-man roster.

If he were to sign with the Jays, the Texas native would be a suitable replacement for fellow utility infielder Eric Sogard, whom Toronto dealt to the Rays last July.

A veteran presence in the clubhouse with the ability to play multiple positions and hit for average on the field. That is what Holt can bring to the table for a young team that includes rising talents such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.

Of course, seeing Holt in a division rival’s uniform would take some getting used to, but it would also allow Red Sox fans to see him up to 19 times per season between Fenway Park and Rogers Centre.

In 33 career games north of the border, Holt owns a lifetime .308/.352/.419 slash line to go along with one home run and 12 RBI.

Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Holt would sign a two-year, $8 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona seems to be an unlikely destination at this point, but how much Holt signs for will be interesting to see once it finally does happen.