Red Sox Free Agency: Five high-profile players to avoid

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Jonathan Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy was one of the top hitting catchers in baseball for about a handful of years. He was pegged as a trade target for the Red Sox as recently as 2016 before he was dealt to the Texas Rangers instead, so we know the front office has at least had their eye on him.

The Red Sox should not have him on their radar anymore.

Lucroy’s 24 home runs in 2016 ranked third among major league catchers. It’s not a staggering total by any means but finding power at a position where it’s typically scarce is one way to feed a lineup starved for a home run threat.

Except he may no longer be that caliber hitter. Lucroy hit a mere six home runs this year and saw his OPS fall to .716, which ranked 24th among catchers with a least 300 plate appearances. He improved in the second half following a trade to Colorado, hitting .310 with a .865 OPS in 46 games with the Rockies, yet his power failed to return. He slugged .437 and hit only two homers while hitting in the thin air at Coors Field.

The decline was more severe on the defensive end. Lucroy was at least average behind the plate for most of his career until posting a brutal -14 defensive runs saved this year. He threw out 27 percent of opposing base runners, a rate far below the duo the Red Sox currently have at the position.

Christian Vazquez is one of the game’s elite defensive catchers and his breakout season at the plate has earned him the chance to be the primary starter. Sandy Leon is a serviceable backup who provides quality defense and occasionally shows signs of life at the plate.

Boston may look to upgrade on Leon but it won’t be with Lucroy, who will surely sign with a team willing to pay him as an everyday starter. Lucroy would spend most of his time in Boston as the designated hitter while occasionally spelling Vazquez behind the plate, yet his bat doesn’t profile nearly as well if he’s not catching.