Phillies sign Jonathan Lucroy, Greg Bird to minor-league contracts
These veterans could provide depth with J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins sidelined by injuries.
With J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins injured and uncertain of when they will return, the Phillies have purchased a couple of insurance policies.
Late Tuesday night, less than a half hour before the deadline to acquire players who will be eligible for the postseason, the Phillies announced the signings of veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Greg Bird to minor-league contracts, and assigned them to the Lehigh Valley training site.
Lucroy, 34, was released Tuesday by the Boston Red Sox. A two-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in his career, he has played for six teams since 2017, and only two innings this season for the Red Sox.
But the Phillies have almost no major-league-ready catching depth in the organization after designating Deivy Grullon for assignment on Aug. 31 and losing him to the Red Sox. When Realmuto went down Saturday night with a strained left hip flexor, the Phillies had to call up 21-year-old catching prospect Rafael Marchan, who made his major-league debut Monday (and picked up his first hit) despite not having played above A-ball in his minor-league career.
Lucroy is a .274 career hitter with 108 home runs and played an average of 128 games per season from 2013 to 2019. If Realmuto is going to miss more time, Lucroy would represent a veteran option to share time behind the plate with Andrew Knapp.
Bird, 27, is a familiar name to manager Joe Girardi. Once a top prospect with the Yankees, he hit 11 home runs and slugged .529 in 46 games as a rookie in 2015 while Girardi was managing in New York.
But Bird missed the 2016 season after having shoulder surgery and parts of 2017 and 2018 with ankle injuries. He tore the planta fascia in his left knee last year and was released by the Yankees in November. He signed with the Texas Rangers, who designated him for assignment in August.
Hoskins is on the 10-day disabled list with an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. The Phillies were getting additional testing Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury.
Although the Phillies have several options to fill in at first base, including rookie third baseman Alec Bohm, Bird gives them additional depth at the position in case Hoskins is unable to return this season.