GM Bridich eyes Lucroy's return to Rockies

First base also a key topic as Hot Stove season continues

GM Bridich eyes Lucroy's return to Rockies

Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said he has been in contact with free-agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy in an effort to re-sign him, and the team is also kicking around options at first base.

The Rockies acquired Lucroy from the Rangers in a Trade Deadline maneuver. Not only did Lucroy help guide a young starting staff that pitched the Rockies to a National League Wild Card Game berth, but he posted an .865 OPS -- on par with his performance during his best years with the Brewers.

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Also, according to Statcast™, Lucroy swung and missed at just eight pitches outside the strike zone from his Aug. 3 Rockies debut until regular season's end -- the lowest such number in the Majors. For a club that had long dry spells because of out-of-control at-bats, Lucroy could be an important presence.

Free agent Lucroy, Rockies make good fit

"We'll be in contact with him; we already have been," Bridich said Tuesday during the MLB General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla. "There's a lot of information that needs to be shared and conversations that need to be had industry-wide before I can comment on what the odds are [of Lucroy re-signing]."

With plenty of clubs interested in Lucroy, 31, the Rockies will be casting "a wide net" for other free agents or possible trade acquisitions.

Notable Free Agent: Hosmer

With the Hot Stove season in the early stages, Bridich said the Rockies are kicking around options at first base. Last year, the Rockies signed Ian Desmond for five years and $70 million with the idea of having him move to first. But just before Spring Training, the Rockies re-signed Mark Reynolds, who had manned the position the previous year.

Desmond suffered a left hand injury and missed the first month of the season, and he twice returned to the disabled list with right calf strains. Reynolds proved to be a shrewd signing for $1.5 million; his .284 batting average, .379 on-base percentage and .513 slugging percentage before the All-Star break nearly earned him an All-Star Game invitation. In the second half, he tailed to .243/.314/.449 and is now a free agent.

Desmond played more left field (66 games) than first base (27). He finished at .274 with seven homers and 40 RBIs. Desmond and the Rockies hope for health, plus better production, but with his versatility, it's not clear which defensive position he will play.

The Rockies could take a run at free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, who has hit 50 homers over the last two seasons with the Royals, or others. And left-handed-hitting Ryan McMahon, who made his Major League debut after earning the Rockies' Hitting Prospect of the Year Award, also is in the mix.

"I don't think we have one thing set in stone yet," Bridich said of his plan at first base. "We know that Mark Reynolds did a great job for us the last two years. Certianly last year was a bump up on his performance overall from 2016. It's a credit to him, and he did a great job for us for two years.

"We're going to address it one way or another. We're certainly going to look at corner-type bats free-agent-wise and look at what other teams want to do trade-wise. But it's on the list."

Also, the Rockies have five players eligible for arbitration, but more attention will go to center fielder Charlie Blackmon, the defending NL batting champion, and second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the 2016 batting champ and winner of multiple fielding awards this season. Both are in their final year of arbitration eligibility.

Bridich said he had no idea whether it's possible for the sides to agree to a multi-year contract, noting that "it always takes two to tango on things like that." The Rockies also have developed prospects who could step in if either or both leave after next season, but there is plenty of time for that situation to develop.

"I'm happy for them that they were able to experience winning, even though it was a short playoff run," Bridich said. "It was good for them to experience winning baseball with us. I don't know what the future is going to be with them, but it's certainly been a quality experience with both those guys for us. And if you ask them, they'd probably say the same thing."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. AJ Cassavell contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.