RANGERS TRADE CATCHER LU­CROY TO ROCKIES

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nick Groke

WASH­ING­TON» The Rockies on Sun­day dug up some round­about re­in­force­ment for their ex­ceed­ingly young pitch­ing staff, ac­quir­ing 31-year-old catcher Jonathan Lu­croy in a trade with the Texas Rangers, the teams con­firmed.

The Rockies will give up a player to be named later. And with the ac­qui­si­tion of vet­eran reliever Pat Neshek last week, Colorado has al­ready put to­gether its busiest dead­line string of moves since send­ing away Troy Tu­low­itzki in 2015.

“It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. The only dead­line I know is when we traded Tulo,” third base­man Nolan Are­nado said. “But to see that we’re try­ing to get bet­ter and win ball­games, it’s a good sign. It’s a boost to the morale.”

Lu­croy, a two-time all-star, joins his third team in two sea­sons af­ter twice be­ing in­volved in trade-dead­line deals. The Mil­wau­kee Brewers sent him to Texas last sum­mer. Now in his eighth sea­son, Lu­croy is a ca­reer .280 hit­ter with 94 home runs, in­clud­ing 24 homers in 2016.

He is hit­ting only .242 this year with four homers and a .635 OPS (on-base plus slug­ging per­cent­age). That would rank him last among Rockies reg­u­lars.

Lu­croy, though, is val­ued for his de­fense. A kind of god­fa­ther of mod­ern pitch fram­ing, he held to­gether a Mil­wau­kee pitch­ing staff for 6½ sea­sons, in­clud­ing an all-star year in 2014 when he fin­ished fourth in Na­tional League MVP vot­ing. He once was the best in base­ball in gain­ing called strikes but has dipped in re­cent sea­sons, now be­low both Rockies catcher Tony Wolters and for­mer Colorado catcher Nick Hund­ley.

“We should feel good about this one,” Colorado man­ager Bud Black said. “Jonathan gives us a guy with a vet­eran pres­ence be­hind the plate as our young starters go into un­charted ter­ri­tory in the next two months.”

When the Rangers ac­quired him last July, Lu­croy had wide in­ter­est as the best avail­able po­si­tion player on the mar­ket. He was the start­ing catcher for Team USA in March, play­ing with Are­nado and re­liev­ers Jake McGee and Neshek, when the Amer­i­cans won the World Base­ball Clas­sic in Los An­ge­les.

Are­nado rou­tinely rode in a car shared with Lu­croy to WBC games, he said, grow­ing fa­mil­iar with the catcher months be­fore shar­ing a club­house with him.

“I’m a huge fan of him. He’s a great dude,” Are­nado said. “It seems like the front of­fice un­der­stands that we’re for real and we’re in this. And we’re try­ing to make moves to get bet­ter.”

Lu­croy and Neshek are play­ers with ex­pir­ing con­tracts ac­quired by the Rockies in a week, a sig­nal of their in­ten­tion to get into the post­sea­son at the risk of sac­ri­fic­ing fu­ture po­ten­tial.

“I love ev­ery­thing we’re do­ing, the guys we’ve brought in,” Rockies right-han­der Jon Gray said.

For­mer Rockies gen­eral man­ager Dan O’Dowd, now an an­a­lyst for the MLB Net­work, once said that “young pitch­ing and young catch­ing is a recipe for dis­as­ter.”

“I played with ‘Luc’ in Mil­wau­kee,” first base­man Mark Reynolds said. “He’s a great ad­di­tion, es­pe­cially with our young pitch­ing, with his game-calling. And his pres­ence in the lineup too. The name alone makes our lineup that much longer. It strikes some fear into some pitch­ers for sure.”

Lu­croy by the num­bers

A look at the new­est Rockie: Year Team G Avg. HR 2010 Mil. 75 .253 4 2011 Mil. 136 .265 12 2012 Mil. 96 .320 12 2013 Mil. 147 .280 18 2014 Mil. 153 .301 13 2015 Mil. 103 .264 7 2016 Mil. 95 .299 13 2016 Tex. 47 .276 11 2017 Tex. 77 .242 4 To­tals 929 .280 94 RBI 26 59 58 82 69 43 50 31 27 445

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