KANSAS CITY -- The Indians recently lost starting catcher Yan Gomes for at least six weeks due to a right shoulder injury. The Brewers have one of the trade market's top chips in catcher Jonathan Lucroy. It makes sense that the clubs would now be linked in reported trade talks.On
KANSAS CITY -- The Indians recently lost starting catcher Yan Gomes for at least six weeks due to a right shoulder injury. The Brewers have one of the trade market's top chips in catcher Jonathan Lucroy. It makes sense that the clubs would now be linked in reported trade talks.
On Wednesday, ESPN reported the Indians are in talks regarding Lucroy, who would present a clear upgrade over their current catching situation. A source told MLB.com that, while the Indians are open-minded to multiple avenues to improve the roster, seeking bullpen help via a trade remains the primary objective.
Neither Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, nor Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold would comment on the report.
On Tuesday, Antonetti addressed a variety of trade-related topics with reporters at Kauffman Stadium and said that adding catching help was not a main focus for the team at the moment. Antonetti expressed faith in the ability of Roberto Pérez and Chris Gimenez to handle the catching duties in Gomes' absence.
"We've said from the beginning that we think Roberto has a chance to be a really good Major League catcher," Antonetti said. "Unfortunately, he had an injury earlier this year, but now he's back healthy and will get that opportunity to do that. It's not an area we're focused on right now. We believe in the guys that we have.
"Both Roberto and Chris have great familiarity with our pitchers and both have done a very good job of leading the staff when they've been asked to do so."
Cleveland's offensive production from the catching position has been last in the Majors this season. Perez, who missed two-plus months while recovering from a fractured right thumb, went 0-for-4 in Wednesday's 11-4 win over the Royals and is now 0-for-14 on the season. Gimenez has hit .202 in 36 games, while Gomes hit .165 in 71 games before sustaining a separated shoulder on Sunday.
Indians catchers have formed one of the game's top defensive groups, but they have hit a combined .168/.218/293. They have also posted a 33 weighted Runs Created Plus, indicating the group has played 67 percent below league average offensively.
A Brewers source said they have been fielding significant interest in Lucroy and a slew of other players, including reliever Will Smith, another player of interest to the Indians, along with fellow pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Junior Guerra.
Beyond Smith, the Indians have also had talks with the Yankees about lefty setup man Andrew Miller and closer Aroldis Chapman. Cleveland prefers players who are under control for more than one year, though it is not ruling out adding a rental (Chapman, for example) before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Lucroy entered Wednesday slashing .305/.362/.494 with 12 home runs, 16 doubles and 45 RBIs, and was baseball's third-most productive catcher by weighted runs created plus (123). He was an All-Star this season for the second time in his career.
Finances are not a significant factor; Lucroy's club-friendly contract pays $4 million this year and includes a $5.25 million club option for next season that is a lock to be exercised. Antonetti noted on Tuesday that the Indians are able to take on salary in trades this year. It is worth noting, however, that Gomes is under contract for $4.5 million in 2017 and signed through '19 with team options for '20 and '21.
Lucroy does have limited no-trade rights, though Arnold, who along with GM David Stearns is in his first season leading the Brewers' baseball operations, declined to confirm whether the Indians were one of the eight teams on Lucroy's no-trade list. Even if they are, that would likely be a clearable hurdle; Lucroy has said he would love to play for a contender.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com and contributed to this report.