July 31, 2016

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians, with potentially a new catcher on their roster, will host the Oakland A's on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.

The Indians have won the first two games, including a 6-3 victory on Saturday night that was followed by reports from several outlets that the Indians and Milwaukee Brewers have agreed on a trade for Milwaukee catcher Matt Lucroy.

The Indians have been basically playing with two backup catchers, Chris Gimenez and Roberto Perez, since July 18, when starter Yan Gomes was placed on the disabled list with a separated right shoulder.

Gomes isn't expected back until September. Acquiring Lucroy would be like getting two players for the Indians -- an All-Star-caliber catcher and hitter. One of the Indians' priorities has been to add a bat, and Lucroy would fill that need.

Even with Gomes, the Indians struggled offensively at catcher. Gomes was hitting .165 when he got hurt. Gimenez is batting .202 and Perez is hitting .043.

The Indians will be giving up prospects in the deal, but outfielder Tyler Naquin won't be one of them. Naquin has emerged as a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. He leads American League rookies in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, triples and extra-base hits and is tied for the lead in home runs.

"He can hit the ball out of the park in any direction," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a hard guy to defend because he uses the entire field."

Naquin, a left-handed hitter, only starts against right-handed pitchers, so he will be in the lineup on Sunday with Oakland starting right-hander Sonny Gray.

Gray is making the start that would have gone to Rich Hill, but Hill was placed on the disabled list Saturday with a blister on his left middle finger.

Hill is another player whose name has been mentioned prominently in trade speculation, but any trade for Hill becomes more complicated by him being on the disabled list.

The A's did make a trade on Saturday, however, dealing outfielder Billy Burns to Kansas City for outfielder Brett Eibner. "Eibner has some power and some speed. I know for us to make this deal we had to like him a lot," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Eibner has been assigned to Triple-A Nashville.

Gray (5-9, 5.43 ERA) has struggled this season. In 10 starts since being activated off the disabled list on June 5, he is 2-4 with a 4.83 ERA. His 5.43 ERA is the second highest in the majors and more than two full runs higher than his previous career high.

Corey Kluber will start for the Indians. He is 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA. The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner was the winning pitcher in this year's All-Star Game.

However, Kluber has never beaten the A's. In five career appearances, four of them starts, Kluber is 0-4 with a 4.03 ERA against Oakland.

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