According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, the Phillies have signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Greg Bird to minor league deals. Both players will report the alternate site in Lehigh Valley and will be added to the team’s 60-man player poll. The timing of these signings is key, as it comes ahead of the September 15th deadline. This means the duo will be eligible for postseason play, shall the Phillies make it.
Lucroy, 34 years of age, made his MLB debut way back into 2010 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Since that time, he has had a rather successful major league career, which has included a Fielding Bible Award in 2014, to go along with two all-star appearances. During his prime, Lucroy was viewed as one of the best backstops in baseball. Despite the early success, ever since the veteran was traded away from Milwaukee in 2016, he has not been the same player. His offensive production has slipped drastically, and he has also taken steps back as a defender.
In various stints with the Rangers, Rockies, Athletics, Angels, and Cubs over the past five seasons, the former all-star has fallen off the radar. He has been unable to find consistent playing time, let alone hold down a spot on an MLB Roster. After recording just one at-bat this year with the Red Sox, the man ESPN magazine once quoted as “More valuable than Mike Trout”, will head to a new team once more. Over 11 big league seasons, Lucroy is a career .274 hitter with 108 Homeruns and a .751 OPS.
Bird, 27 years of age, was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball while in the Yankees organization. However, due to a combination of injuries, inconsistency, and a lack of playing time, the left-handed slugger was never able to get it going in the Bronx, and unable to live up to his full potential. Over the winter, Bird signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, but he elected for free agency after being optioned in August. Over four big league seasons, Bird is a career .211 hitter with 32 Homeruns and a .725 OPS.
Now, Bird will reunite with his former skipper Joe Girardi in hopes of revitalizing his career. I feel a fresh start and a change of scenery could work wonders toward getting his swing back on track. It is also worth mentioning that Bird, as well as Lucroy, have been exposed to postseason play during their careers. Bird specifically, hit 3 Homeruns in just 41 at-bats during the Yankees playoff run in 2017. Their experience could go a long way for a team that has failed to make the playoffs every year since 2011.
If anything, additions of Lucroy and Bird should provide Phillies manager Joe Girardi with some insurance down the stretch. With Rhys Hoskins on the injured list with a UCL injury, and J.T. Realmuto sidelined with a strained left hip flexor, the Phillies depth at both catcher and first base became thin rather quickly. These signings help to eradicate that problem. Depending on how both players perform at the alternate site, both could get the call to the majors before the regular season concludes on Sunday, September 27th.
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