The Phillies have signed two veterans as apparent back-up options for Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto
Following their series opener victory against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies signed two notable veterans to minor-league contracts — first baseman Greg Bird and catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Considering the recent injuries to J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins, these signings serve as insurance options in case neither are able to return, or at least at full strength. Not to mention, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Garlick were removed from Tuesday’s game due to respective hamstring and oblique injuries.
Both Bird and Lucroy will report to the Phillies’ alternate training site in Lehigh Valley for now.
Bird, 27, joins the Phillies after being designated for assignment and electing free agency from the Texas Rangers. The Memphis, Tennessee, native was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of high school. The often-injured former Yankees prospect went on to play 94 games under Phillies manager Joe Girardi as a Yankee in 2015 and 2017, slashing .227/.316/.477 with 16 doubles, 20 home runs, and 59 RBI. Bird’s power numbers declined in the following two seasons in nearly as many games (92), however, slashing only .195/.287/.371 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs, and 39 RBI.
During the 2017 ALDS and ALCS against the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros, Bird notably hit a combined four singles, two doubles, three home runs, and five RBI, while walking 11 times spanning 50 plate appearances. The Yankees released Bird in November 2019, and a few months later, he signed on with the Texas Rangers but never made a MLB appearance this season.
Lucroy, 34, heads to the Phillies alternate training site just hours after being granted his released from the Boston Red Sox (and ahead of Tuesday’s postseason eligibility deadline). Lucroy had been mentoring and working with Red Sox pitchers — including the recently traded Nick Pivetta — at their Pawtucket site since he was designated for assignment back in late July.
The Eustis, Florida, native was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Louisiana. Debuting in 2010, and until he was traded to the Rangers in 2016, Lucroy earned two All-Star nods — slashing .284/.342/.436 with 157 doubles, 79 home runs, and 387 RBI spanning 805 games.
Since, he has played for the Rangers (2017), Colorado Rockies (2017), Oakland Athletics (2018), Los Angeles Angels (2019), Chicago Cubs (2019), and Red Sox (2020).
During the 2011 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals — who had just beaten the Phillies in the NLDS — Lucroy slashed .294/.294/.529 with three singles, one double, one home run, and three RBI in six games and 17 plate appearances. Fast-forward to the 2017 National League Wild Card Game between the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, Lucroy notably slugged two doubles and a RBI, however that still was not enough to allow the Rockies to advance to the next round.
Bird has only played one fielding position in his career — first base. Lucroy, meanwhile, has also fielded both at first, but mostly at catcher spanning his 11-year career.