Jonathan Lucroy was trying to find a silver lining in the aftermath of the Rockies’ dramatic loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. As his teammates exchanged hugs and handshakes in the visitor’s locker room, the veteran catcher was trying to put into perspective the 11-8 defeat.
“The painful part is that we gave up a lot of two-strike hits,” Lucroy said. “They did a lot of two-strike damage. That’s the part that is frustrating for me. It’s difficult. It’s hard to accept. But it is what it is. The positive side of it is, it’s just going to make them better next year and the year after that.”
Will Lucroy be around then?
Lucroy is set to become a free agent for the first time in his professional career this winter. He’ll hit the market coming off a down year. Lucroy began the season with the Rangers, where he hit .242 in 77 games. He finally started to come alive after the Rockies traded for him in late July. Lucroy slashed .310/.429/.437 in the final two months of the season.
Lucroy also appeared to mesh well with Colorado’s young arms. The Rockies posted a 4.02 ERA in the innings he caught. Lucroy got an up-close look at a Rockies’ rotation that is stocked with young talent, which he said will factor into his decision.
“When you’re a 31-year-old free agent catcher, you’re trying to get to place where you can win,” Lucroy said. “This is definitely a place you can do that. I guess we’ll have to see what happens. But I’ve fully enjoyed my time here.”
The Rockies have other difficult decisions looming.
Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds are up for new deals. How will Colorado plug those holes at right field and first base if it doesn’t resign either of them? Ian Desmond, who’s owed $22 million next season, is capable of playing both positions. Raimel Tapia and David Dahl could step up to take over a starting outfield spot if necessary.
Colorado will also have to figure out how to fill out a bullpen that transformed from one of baseball’s worst in 2016 to one of baseball’s best in 2017. Closer Greg Holland has a $10 million option. Jake McGee and Pat Neshek will become unrestricted free agents. It’s doubtful the Rockies will be able to retain all three.
“It was a great season,” Gonzalez said Wednesday.
The Rockies finally broke through and made the postseason after eight years of missing out. Earning a playoff spot again in 2018 could depend largely on how Colorado fills in the gaps around its young talent.
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