Gil LeBreton

Lucroy trade is one that was worth the price for Rangers’ Daniels

The rookie center fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers clearly shined on an otherwise damp and gray Monday in the Cactus League.

But the Texas Rangers already know everything there is to know about Lewis Brinson, 22 years young. The Rangers traded him to the Brewers last season in a five-player deal that brought them Jonathan Lucroy.

Brinson, rated as the No. 1 prospect in the Milwaukee organization, is expected to start the season at Triple A Colorado Springs.

Lucroy, meanwhile, is expected to perform like one of the best catchers in the American League.

You get what you pay for in baseball — sometimes. In Lucroy’s case, there should be no argument.

The Rangers needed an upgrade at catcher. Lucroy is a two-time All-Star. The best catching prospect in the organization, Jorge Alfaro, had been sent to Philadelphia in 2015 as part of the Cole Hamels trade.

Out of contention at last season’s non-waiver trading deadline, the Brewers were willing to add reliever Jeremy Jeffress to the deal.

Thus, the Rangers were able to get immediate help. The Brewers bolstered their farm system for the future.

In this case, both teams got what they paid for.

The Hamels trade was more costly for the Rangers, but again they weren’t shopping in the discount aisle. To get the best available pitcher as that season’s trade deadline approached, general manager Jon Daniels took a deep breath and sent the Phillies six players, including the organization’s Nos. 2, 3 and 5 prospects.

Pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, included in the deal, wasn’t considered a top Rangers prospect, but he rocketed to the big leagues and started 33 games for the Phillies a year ago.

Is he, like Hamels, a No. 2 starter? Probably not, but Hamels has been that and more since joining the Texas rotation. Don’t let some clown tell you otherwise.

Daniels wanted somebody to tag-team with Yu Darvish at the top of the Rangers rotation and he got him.

Expensive, yes. Necessary, indeed.

Not all of Daniels’ deals, of course, have prompted applause and sold tickets.

The worst of the lot was the July 2013, swap for two-month rental Matt Garza, who was so singularly uninspiring the Rangers didn’t even offer him a contract at the end of the season.

The Chicago Cubs received, among others, Carl Edwards and Justin Grimm. Both pitched for the Cubs in last year’s World Series, as did starter Kyle Hendricks, whom Daniels had traded to Chicago the year before for Ryan Dempster.

Ouch.

He’s had lamentable trades, but Daniels hasn’t made one in . ... months, maybe not since the Prince Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler deal. You’ll never convince me that Fielder wasn’t hurt — and said nothing — before he ever got to Texas.

But again, you get what you’re willing to pay for — and Daniels had decided to pay for a big bat in the middle of the lineup to replace Josh Hamilton.

Free agent signings require a different skill set for a general manager. After all, it’s only money.

But parting with prospects that you’ve drafted and nurtured or players that you’ve gone to battle with takes a special kind of resolve.

Daniels has been good at that lately. Again, don’t let some clown tell you otherwise.

After Monday’s game, in which he had three hits and an RBI, Ranger-turned-Brewer Brinson told MLB.com, “I’m out there having a great time with a new team. Just trying to kind of show them what they missed out on.”

Ouch.

But Daniels and the Rangers didn’t miss on what they got in return. And that’s the point when you make a baseball trade.

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