2022 Positional Power Rankings: Catcher

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, Meg Rowley introduced this year’s positional power rankings. As a quick refresher, all 30 teams are ranked based on the projected WAR from our Depth Charts. Our staff then endeavors to provide you with some illuminating commentary to put those rankings in context. We begin this year’s series at catcher.


In the era of modern analytics, we’ve deciphered a lot of baseball’s mysteries, but not all of them have been solved, and the catcher position remains one of the game’s most tantalizing unfinished puzzles. Shortstops all hit now and we can value relief pitchers using measures like the leverage index, but a lot of a catcher’s job is still difficult to quantify, even with the vast array of nifty data available in 2022. In some ways, that’s fine. A catcher dressed in full regalia kind of resembles an Arthurian knight, and it’s fun not to have all of our mythology replaced by science; J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t tie up all of his loose ends on purpose.

One area where we have made progress is in understanding the value of pitch framing. Robot umpires might make this an archaic skill at some point, but for now, it’s quite real, as analysts such as Dan Turkenkopf, Mike Fast, Jonathan Judge, Harry Pavlidis, Dan Brooks, and Jared Cross, among others, have demonstrated. In last year’s catcher rankings, my colleague Jay Jaffe discussed how the gap between the best and worst pitch framers has narrowed. That trend isn’t surprising. While framing has long been understood to be a skill by people in baseball, it was an immense challenge to quantify, and in keeping with the nearly immutable Nichols’s Law of Catcher Defense, the label of “good framer” seemed to be applied mainly to catchers who were lousy hitters. As another fable moved into the realm of statistics, sometimes the great framers and the dreadful ones weren’t always who you might have guessed.

The individual gaps didn’t shrink — Salvador Perez had a rough season, for instance — but the gaps between teams continued to tighten. Clubs are aware of framing value and more than ever, it’s taken into consideration when selecting backup catchers.

As teams have become better at balancing the offensive and defensive characteristics of their catching dyarchies and triumvirates, we’ve seen more uniformity of quality on the depth charts. Our worst team comes in at a combined 1.6 WAR, barely three wins off the top dogs. That’s the smallest difference we’ve ever seen, with the typical spread normally four to five wins. If it feels like there are fewer true superstars or genuine black holes than there used to be, there’s something to that sense, with the extremes of the position giving way to a tightly bunched middle class.

So let’s jump into the catchers and their curious mix of legend and science.

2022 Positional Power Rankings – C
1. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Will Smith 410 .252 .351 .504 .362 15.1 -0.6 0.9 3.7
Austin Barnes 218 .219 .307 .356 .292 -4.6 -0.1 3.0 1.0
Tony Wolters 13 .214 .295 .304 .267 -0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .240 .335 .449 .336 9.9 -0.8 4.0 4.7

Will Smith only needed 91 major league games in 2019 and ’20 to reach rarefied air in last year’s positional rankings, which saw the Dodgers’ starting backstop and backup Austin Barnes combine to get Los Angeles to the No. 3 position.

If there were any lingering doubts about Smith’s status among baseball’s catching elite, 2021 should have permanently put them to rest. In a belated first full season, he hit .258/.365/.495 with 25 homers, good for a 130 wRC+ and a spicy 4.6 WAR on the year. His power took a bit of a step backward, as did his plate discipline, but given his overall performance and the lack of fundamental weaknesses in his game, those feel like petty complaints. Should Smith miss the All-Star Game again in 2022, it may be enough to permanently alienate me from the philosophical concept of democracy.

With a fallback option at catcher a less pressing need, the Dodgers were comfortable sending Keibert Ruiz, a very good prospect at the position, to the Nationals in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade. Austin Barnes is arguably good enough to be a stopgap starter in his own right, which gives the team the opportunity to either slot Smith in at designated hitter or simply get him a few days off.

2. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yasmani Grandal 448 .235 .373 .463 .362 17.5 -2.3 3.8 4.3
Seby Zavala 115 .184 .246 .346 .257 -5.5 -0.1 -0.4 0.0
Zack Collins 77 .204 .319 .377 .306 -0.6 -0.1 -3.1 0.0
Total 640 .221 .344 .429 .337 11.4 -2.5 0.3 4.4

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Yasmani Grandal had one of the oddest seasons of any player in the majors in 2021. Grandal’s on-base and slugging looked fairly normal in the season’s early going, but his BABIP, and thus his batting average, was in such a deep funk that it might as well have been putting down a couple of tracks with Parliament. Before tearing a tendon in his left knee in early July, Grandal stood at an .824 OPS despite being comfortably below the Mendoza line.

The injury cost him nearly two months, but he returned with a vengeance in late August. Over the final six weeks of the season, Grandal tortured pitchers to the tune of a .337/.481/.674 line. In just a month’s time, he hit more singles (18) than he had in the entire first half (17), with the mysterious BABIP deities apparently satisfied he had shown enough penance.

Now 33, Grandal is likely entering his decline phase, but he’s starting at such a high peak that he has quite a lot of breathing space on his way down. Also encouraging is the fact that for a catcher entering his mid-30s, he doesn’t really have a ton of games behind the plate on his knees; only once in his career has Grandal started 120 games at catcher.

The White Sox would likely still outrank the Dodgers here if they had a better backup situation, but Seby Zavala doesn’t provide much on offense outside of the occasional homer, and the “C” next to Zack Collins’ name is best characterized as fan fiction.

3. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Sean Murphy 410 .228 .314 .428 .321 3.5 -0.3 7.7 3.3
Stephen Vogt 147 .211 .290 .369 .286 -3.0 -0.4 -0.5 0.4
Austin Allen 70 .247 .293 .441 .312 0.1 -0.1 0.1 0.4
Shea Langeliers 13 .233 .293 .432 .309 -0.0 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .226 .306 .416 .312 0.5 -0.8 7.3 4.1

It would be unreasonable to expect Sean Murphy to maintain the .846 OPS he posted in his first 63 games in the majors, but thanks to a glove that keeps getting better, he doesn’t need to be an elite offensive weapon to earn his place in the first tier of catchers. While his strong arm has yet to result in the eye-popping numbers of a Yadier Molina or an Ivan Rodriguez when it comes to nabbed base stealers, he frames pitches excellently, keeps errant balls in front of him, and avoids mistakes. Plus, it’s not as if the A’s competition in the AL West is going to conjure up anyone comparable to 1980s Rickey Henderson or Vince Coleman anytime soon.

Two recent acquisitions provide the A’s with some needed reinforcements in case of a Murphy injury. Stephen Vogt has had forgettable stints with the Diamondbacks and Braves the last couple of seasons, but he probably has enough in his bat to be an emergency stopgap. His glove isn’t terribly exciting, but as long as we’re not talking about an entire season, there are worse things than starting Vogt for a couple of weeks.

If Murphy was on the shelf for an extended period, I think it’s more likely that the A’s would turn to Austin Allen or Shea Langeliers. Allen hasn’t impressed in limited cups of coffee in the majors so far, but both Steamer and ZiPS peg him for a 100 wRC+, more than enough for a competent backup. Langeliers, one of the key prospects acquired in the Matt Olson trade, is already close to the majors and could end up the starter in this scenario. He’s probably Murphy’s successor when the A’s decide that the latter is too expensive for their thrifty nature.

4. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Danny Jansen 371 .233 .318 .447 .329 2.2 -0.5 2.4 2.4
Alejandro Kirk 205 .265 .341 .468 .347 4.2 -0.3 -0.9 1.4
Reese McGuire 64 .236 .294 .372 .289 -1.7 -0.0 0.8 0.3
Total 640 .243 .323 .446 .331 4.7 -0.7 2.4 4.1

None of Toronto’s catchers can claim stardom by themselves, but together, they make for a desirable combination. Danny Jansen is arguably the most well-rounded of the trio, giving him the best argument for near full-time status; his 105 wRC+ in 2021 was his best since his rookie season. Meanwhile, Reese McGuire is the best pitch framer, and Alejandro Kirk almost certainly possesses the most offensive upside. Combine the three, and you get a J.T. Realmuto-esque reboot of Voltron.

The only unfortunate thing is that their individual skill sets don’t really allow the Jays to fully exploit rostering three players who could otherwise be legitimate starters. The free substitutions in football and basketball are more conducive to leveraging highly specialized players, and it makes me wonder if Toronto should shop at least one of their backstops as part of a package to address a bigger need elsewhere.

That said, having three catchers does give the Jays a considerably higher floor at the position than the other elite teams outside of the Dodgers. Perhaps they’ll eventually find a son of a former major leaguer to start behind the plate, but for now, there’s no reason to grumble.

5. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.T. Realmuto 461 .258 .329 .447 .332 3.1 1.3 7.3 3.6
Garrett Stubbs 122 .221 .302 .338 .284 -3.9 0.1 0.8 0.3
Rafael Marchan 58 .227 .289 .329 .274 -2.4 -0.1 -0.2 0.0
Total 640 .248 .320 .416 .317 -3.3 1.4 7.9 4.0

Since his breakout season in 2017, J.T. Realmuto has put up at least 4 WAR in every season other than the 60-game 2020 campaign. While posting four four-win seasons might not sound like an outlandish accomplishment, it’s actually relatively rare for catchers throughout history. With Realmuto joining the club, only 28 players who have donned Muddy Ruel’s Tools of Ignorance have put up four such seasons in their careers. Twelve of them are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame and, conservatively, four more (Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, and Thurman Munson) will get in at some point. Realmuto was on pace to achieve four wins in 2020 and his projections put him within shouting distance of that threshold last season.

The universal designated hitter must be a welcome development for the senior circuit’s aging star catchers. Having both Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos on the roster complicates matters, but I’d still expect the Phils to find 15 or so games of DH duty for Realmuto. The club has him for three more seasons after this one and he’s now on the wrong side of 30, so it’s important to minimize wear-and-tear.

Garrett Stubbs’ minor league career suggests a better hitter than we’ve seen so far in his brief stints in the majors, but he’s strictly backup material. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see prospect Logan O’Hoppe start peeking in from the bottom of the team’s depth chart before the end of 2022.

6. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Zunino 339 .201 .275 .447 .307 -0.3 -0.5 6.0 2.3
Francisco Mejía 262 .249 .306 .421 .312 0.8 -0.2 -1.7 1.3
René Pinto 38 .221 .272 .369 .277 -1.0 -0.0 0.3 0.1
Total 640 .222 .288 .431 .308 -0.5 -0.7 4.5 3.8

There’s an old joke that if you found a statistician with one foot in a bucket of ice and the other standing in a fire, they would assert that, on average, they’re comfortable. I always think about that joke when Mike Zunino’s name comes up. The projections consistently have him as an above-average catcher in a timeshare, but in nine seasons in the majors, he hasn’t posted a wRC+ between 87 and 117.

Part of the inconsistency comes from Zunino’s extreme feast-or-famine tendencies. When he swings at a bad pitch, he’s a lot more likely to miss wildly than make weak contact. But when he does connect, his hard, uppercut swing leads to a healthy share of round-trippers, and only Gary Sánchez has a higher barrel percentage among the catchers of the Statcast era.

What makes Zunino rank up here and not down with Sánchez is that he can handle the defensive demands of the position considerably better, making him a legitimate starter when his wRC+ is above 85 or so. Now, that doesn’t always happen, but the Rays also have Francisco Mejía, who still has offensive potential and some time to improve defensively, though actual stardom looks a bit more elusive than it did when he was a prospect with Cleveland.

7. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mitch Garver 371 .237 .327 .459 .338 7.0 -0.7 -3.0 2.3
Jose Trevino 179 .240 .273 .364 .274 -6.1 -0.4 3.3 0.6
Jonah Heim 90 .241 .296 .382 .294 -1.6 -0.1 2.3 0.5
Total 640 .239 .308 .420 .314 -0.7 -1.3 2.6 3.5

Jose Trevino is a solid enough defensive catcher and is certainly capable of holding down a job as a backup, but the Rangers are clearly in a hurry to get better, so an upgrade at the position was necessary. Mitch Garver is just that, and with over 1,000 plate appearances now bolstering his .256/.341/.494 line, it’s a lot harder to dismiss him as a fluke than it was in 2019. He won’t win any Gold Gloves, but he’s more defensively competent than some of the other late-bloomers throughout the position’s history, such as Mickey Tettleton, Mike Stanley, or Don Slaught.

Garver is already 31, but the Rangers don’t need for him a decade; they just need a short-term offensive boost in a lineup that still has significant holes even after signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.

Jonah Heim is still in camp as of press time, but he has two options years remaining, and I expect Trevino’s experience gives him the edge in the backup race. Heim didn’t hit in the majors last year, but his minor league record isn’t bad, so there’s an argument to be made that even if he’s slightly better than Trevino overall, getting him daily work at Triple-A may be the more advantageous plan long-term.

8. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jacob Stallings 429 .247 .321 .371 .304 -4.1 -0.8 12.3 3.0
Payton Henry 128 .216 .280 .348 .275 -4.3 -0.2 0.5 0.3
Nick Fortes 51 .238 .306 .386 .300 -0.6 -0.0 -0.6 0.1
Alex Jackson 32 .188 .270 .381 .281 -0.9 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .237 .309 .368 .296 -9.9 -1.0 12.2 3.5

You can find a lot of things to fairly fault the Marlins for, but pairing their brilliant young rotation with a weak catcher is no longer one of them. The team gave an extended look to Jorge Alfaro, but after two and a half years with more backsliding than forward progress, it was time to move on to a better option. Sure, actually paying J.T. Realmuto a few years ago would have been the best idea, but Jacob Stallings brings enough defense to the Marlins to transform catcher into a team strength. And while offensive production isn’t why you start Stallings 120 times a year, he’s also likely to be an upgrade at the plate over the free-swinging Alfaro.

Payton Henry appears to have cemented the backup job in Miami, at least for the time being; Nick Fortes was optioned over the weekend, as was Alex Jackson. Henry, who was picked up last summer from the Brewers for reliever John Curtiss, has occasional power, but he brings little else to the table. Fortes provided the Fish with a surprising bit of pop in an end-of-year call-up, but with a career .651 OPS in the minors, he’s no more likely than Henry to threaten to reduce Stallings to a timeshare. Jackson remains an option as well, but the projections for his offense are uniformly bleak despite a six-week burst last year with the Gwinnett Braves.

Fan-favorite Willians Astudillo, who isn’t even listed here, is a more interesting option, but if he makes the majors, it will likely be in a multi-position role, not primarily as a catcher.

9. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Salvador Perez 461 .261 .301 .502 .337 6.8 -1.0 -6.4 2.4
Cam Gallagher 96 .247 .306 .364 .294 -2.0 -0.2 1.5 0.4
MJ Melendez 70 .246 .318 .467 .335 0.9 -0.1 0.1 0.5
Sebastian Rivero 13 .220 .273 .334 .265 -0.6 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 640 .256 .303 .475 .329 5.1 -1.3 -4.9 3.3

Should we rename Tommy John surgery Salvador Perez surgery? Before 2019, the free-swinging catcher’s career path wasn’t all that unusual: he enjoyed an impressive first few seasons before his batting average and on-base percentage slipped as his approach saw less success throughout his 20s. When Perez missed the entire 2019 season due to injury, I expected the Royals to be forced to start thinking about the team’s next generation of catchers.

But rather than start fading into retirement, Perez found a second wind that blew mightier than the first. And it wasn’t as if he turned things around by changing his style at the plate and suddenly channeling Joey Votto. On the contrary, he’s just as aggressive as he ever was; his 2021 season was his worst contact season in the majors. His swinging strike rate was triple what it was in his first breakout back in 2013. The main thing that has changed is that Perez simply hits balls a lot harder, which, as physics can tell us, is good! Since 2015, he has enjoyed a 6 mph bump in his average exit velocity, with his hard-hit rate jumping from 32% to 56%.

After posting a 48-homer season, you might wonder why Perez is ranked where he is. Now, the truth is obviously that our projection systems secretly hate the Royals, but let me tell you a few scurrilous lies. Perez isn’t that good of a defensive catcher and outside of the admittedly abundant homers, he’s not very well-rounded offensively. And at 32, he’s likely entering the downswing of his career. Well, until he has another surgery and comes back as Johnny Bench.

MJ Melendez is the most interesting non-Perez catcher in the organization, but after a breakout at Double- and Triple-A in 2021, he needs to be starting full-time in the minors, not sitting on the bench and hoping to grab 40 starts from Perez. That said, ZiPS already thinks he’s a real starting option, so the Royals may have an interesting conundrum to solve in a year or two, though his bat may force one sooner.

10. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Travis d’Arnaud 365 .247 .311 .414 .313 -3.6 -0.7 2.3 1.7
Manny Piña 250 .228 .308 .405 .309 -3.2 -0.6 5.4 1.5
William Contreras 19 .251 .321 .438 .326 0.0 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Chadwick Tromp 6 .218 .271 .372 .278 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .239 .310 .411 .312 -7.1 -1.3 7.4 3.3

Travis d’Arnaud struggled offensively in a 2021 season that was truncated by a torn thumb ligament, hitting just .220/.284/.388 in 60 games. William Contreras did an admirable job filling in given that he only had a little more than a half-season of experience in the high minors, but he’s better served getting 100 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett than backing up d’Arnaud.

The Braves are defending champions, and with d’Arnaud’s age and injury history, they were smart to upgrade their backup game. Manny Piña was an excellent timeshare catcher with the Brewers and he’ll continue that role in Atlanta. Combine his addition with the bounce-back the projections anticipate from d’Arnaud, and the Braves look solid here.

11. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adley Rutschman 384 .257 .343 .440 .338 6.1 -0.5 1.0 2.7
Robinson Chirinos 179 .211 .303 .376 .297 -3.3 -0.6 -2.4 0.3
Jacob Nottingham 64 .197 .269 .364 .275 -2.3 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Anthony Bemboom 13 .203 .278 .336 .271 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .237 .323 .412 .319 -0.1 -1.1 -1.6 3.2

As a native of Baltimore, seeing the Orioles rank 11th with Adley Rutschman on the depth chart causes me personal offense! The key to a higher ranking here may simply come down to how the O’s choose to integrate Adley into the lineup. He’s currently out with a triceps strain and is reportedly close to throwing, though given that big-league teams are gonna big-league team, I’m guessing the eagerness to get him back into the lineup won’t be palpable until, say, there are 171 days left in the season.

Beyond that, there’s no reason to fret too much over Rutschman’s status. He was our top prospect here, and ZiPS only defied its creator enough to drop him to number two. After a lost 2020 season, his first full professional campaign went swimmingly as he hit .285/.397/.502 for Bowie and Norfolk. While I understand O’s fans having some Matt Wieters worries, it’s not exactly like Wieters was a bust; before his oblique injury and Tommy John surgery, he put up 15.2 WAR in four full seasons from 2010-13.

The O’s didn’t need to invest in depth here as even a run at fourth place in the AL East looks like an insurmountable challenge, but Robinson Chirinos is solid as backups go. Jacob Nottingham will back up Chirinos in April, but his bat likely isn’t strong enough to stick on the roster once Rutschman arrives, and I expect him to finish 2022 in a different uniform.

12. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carson Kelly 397 .240 .332 .422 .325 0.2 -0.4 1.0 2.2
Daulton Varsho 147 .253 .323 .450 .330 0.7 0.3 -0.8 0.8
Jose Herrera 64 .216 .302 .336 .282 -2.2 -0.1 0.6 0.2
Grayson Greiner 32 .198 .271 .311 .259 -1.7 -0.0 -0.4 -0.0
Total 640 .238 .324 .414 .319 -3.1 -0.2 0.4 3.1

2021 was an abysmal year for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it turned out to be a fairly productive one for Carson Kelly. After seemingly establishing himself as a starter in the majors in 2019 thanks to a .245/.348/.478 at age 24, his walk rate collapsed the following season, his BABIP fell into dangerous territory, and he started hitting a lot of weak grounders. He bled 200 points of OPS, and Daulton Varsho started to look like an imminent threat to his job security.

Kelly didn’t entirely return to form in 2021, but he got a good chunk of the way there, making his starting job more secure. The bad news is that he’s 27 now, not a 24-year-old in the midst of a breakout season, which means that his ceiling has dropped considerably. An average catcher isn’t anything to sneeze at but the Snakes were surely hoping to hit it big with at least one of the players who came back in the Paul Goldschmidt trade.

Varsho is an interesting backup and is of even better multipurpose use than Austin Barnes, which is useful to his career prospects with Kelly looking more secure. He played nearly as much in the outfield as he did at catcher and might even get more at-bats overall than Kelly does. If there’s a previous instance of a team’s starting center fielder being the backup catcher, I haven’t heard of it (that’s my hedge just in case someone pops in to say they can’t believe I forgot about Sport O’Shaughnessy of the 1873 Oswego Burgundy Sox of the Adirondack-Oneida League).

13. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Willson Contreras 378 .241 .337 .439 .336 4.0 -1.2 -2.2 2.0
Yan Gomes 256 .248 .303 .416 .307 -3.5 -0.4 0.1 1.0
P.J. Higgins 6 .226 .296 .336 .279 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .244 .323 .428 .324 0.3 -1.6 -2.1 3.0

Of all the potent young bats who helped the Cubs put up their first 100-win season since 1935 and their first championship since 1908, only a few crumbs remain. Willson Contreras survived the team’s veteran purge last summer but as he’s eligible for free agency after the season, this might be his last year in the friendly confines. He never developed into a star, instead becoming a dependable, durable player who is good for two to three wins per season. It would be kind of fun for the Cubs to make a run at the Wild Card with Contreras still on the roster; the youngster of the 2016 lineup would now be the wizened veteran and, along with Kyle Hendricks, the strongest link between the generations.

Replacing Robinson Chirinos as the primary backup will be Yan Gomes, and he should get a healthy amount of playing time as the team is likely to give Contreras plenty of games at DH. Gomes also represents something of a hedge bet; he’s signed for two years with an option for a third, a useful addition given the likelihood that Contreras moves on either this summer or in the fall. Gomes will be around if Miguel Amaya gets back on the prospect path and the Cubs need to ease him into the lineup in a year or two.

14. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ben Rortvedt 307 .215 .281 .372 .284 -8.1 -0.2 6.3 1.5
Kyle Higashioka 294 .213 .269 .417 .292 -5.6 -0.4 4.7 1.4
Rob Brantly 38 .242 .307 .373 .297 -0.6 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Total 640 .216 .277 .393 .288 -14.3 -0.6 10.8 3.0

I’ve thought for a few years that Gary Sánchez was a good candidate for a change of scenery, but after the Yankees tendered him a contract for 2022, I expected he would just quietly walk away after the season. Instead, the Bombers pulled a surprise trade out of nowhere, remaking the left side of their infield with Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and sending Sánchez to the Twins as part of the swap.

The combination of Ben Rortvedt and Kyle Higashioka will likely represent an offensive downgrade compared to Sánchez, but they form one of the best defensive duos at catcher in the majors. Indeed, you might have noticed that in terms of defensive value, the Yankees rank second in baseball, even above the Marlins (though that’s hardly Jacob Stallings’ fault).

After being just 10th in the American League in runs scored in 2021, you might not think that swapping in runs saved for runs scored is an optimal strategy, but there are reasons to believe the Yankees offense is better than it was last year. Donaldson is an upgrade, full seasons of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo are likely in store, and it would be a feat for Aaron Hicks to somehow be less healthy than he was from 2019-21. Rortvedt and Higashioka aren’t anything fancy, but they’ll get the job done.

15. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Max Stassi 403 .223 .303 .398 .305 -4.0 -1.0 12.0 2.9
Kurt Suzuki 154 .232 .297 .365 .290 -3.4 -0.4 -4.9 -0.1
Austin Romine 58 .237 .273 .363 .275 -2.0 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Matt Thaiss 26 .228 .314 .395 .308 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 640 .227 .299 .387 .299 -9.7 -1.5 6.8 3.0

Max Stassi’s arm isn’t impressive, but overall he’s been a real defensive find, first for the Astros and now for the Angels, and his framing numbers have been consistently positive for long enough to demonstrate that it’s a real ability. Despite catching just 1,881 total innings over the last four seasons, Stassi ranked second in baseball for framing run value over that span behind only Austin Hedges. And don’t let his low game totals in 2021 fool you; that was due to a concussion that cost him a month of the season. The Angels showed their commitment by inking him to a three-year deal that runs through the end of 2024. Stassi is 31, but it’s a young 31, with just 818 professional games in his knees.

The Angels brought back Kurt Suzuki to be the safe, veteran backup while they wait and see how Matt Thaiss’ development behind the plate goes in the minors. Suzuki can competently fill that role and not much more.

16. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Christian Vázquez 371 .256 .307 .387 .301 -6.8 -1.2 3.7 1.6
Kevin Plawecki 243 .261 .330 .402 .320 -0.7 -0.6 -1.2 1.1
Connor Wong 26 .235 .283 .422 .301 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 640 .257 .315 .394 .308 -7.9 -1.8 2.4 2.7

Christian Vázquez appeared to take some significant steps forward at the plate in 2019 and ’20, but those gains didn’t continue last season. His power faded back to his pre-2019 levels, which was enough to drop Boston a dozen places in these rankings. He remains a plus with the leather, so it’s hardly a disaster for the Red Sox, but it is a bit disappointing.

Vázquez led the league in innings caught in 2021 and like our depth charts, I expect to see Kevin Plawecki grab a larger share of the playing time this season. He’s not a match for Vázquez defensively, so things probably won’t reach parity when it comes to plate appearances, but he can hold up his end with the bat.

Connor Wong likely won’t hit enough to threaten this pair, but Ronaldo Hernández could start to force his way into the majors pretty soon: ZiPS already projects him with a 20% chance to be a two-win player this year.

17. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tom Murphy 294 .214 .294 .391 .298 -2.9 -0.4 -1.0 1.1
Cal Raleigh 250 .228 .280 .419 .298 -2.3 -0.1 1.2 1.2
Luis Torrens 90 .234 .295 .405 .301 -0.7 -0.1 -0.9 0.3
Chance Sisco 6 .207 .304 .348 .290 -0.1 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 640 .222 .289 .404 .298 -6.0 -0.6 -1.0 2.7

Tom Murphy was a fun pickup for Seattle in 2019. He provided some unexpected power that year, but things just weren’t the same last season after he missed 2020 with a broken foot. Both ZiPS and Steamer project better times ahead, but the predicted lines are closer to his 2021 production than that of his debut season.

How Murphy is used in 2022 may come down to how many catchers the Mariners end up carrying on their roster. Last year, they found room for Cal Raleigh and Luis Torrens along with Murphy for most of the second half. If just Torrens makes the team, Murphy will likely get the lion’s share of the playing time, with Torrens occasionally filling in at first base. But if the team carries Raleigh, you might see a pseudo-platoon between him and Murphy. In the majors and minors combined, Raleigh has a .933 OPS against righties versus a .795 mark against southpaws.

18. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Keibert Ruiz 365 .269 .328 .465 .339 4.5 -0.4 -0.7 2.3
Riley Adams 230 .217 .312 .381 .305 -3.6 -0.1 -5.6 0.3
Tres Barrera 45 .226 .300 .358 .288 -1.3 -0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 640 .248 .320 .428 .323 -0.5 -0.6 -6.1 2.6

Once upon a time, Keibert Ruiz was our No. 15 prospect, but his star faded a bit as his offensive development stalled at Double- and Triple-A. But one of the advantages of advancing through the minors at a young age is that you have more time to overcome a setback. Ruiz only turned 23 last July and had his best professional season with the bat. Admittedly, it was in the offense-friendly Pacific Coast League, but a .311/.381/.631 line from a capable defensive catcher is always worth looking at. The Dodgers didn’t give up on Ruiz so much as they had already found their star in Will Smith, making it nearly a no-brainer when the opportunity came to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.

Riley Adams has nowhere near the upside of Ruiz, but he’s shown some power in the minors. The Nationals will likely be pleased if he hits .222/.358/.384 in the majors again; most teams would be happy to get that from their backup catcher. His glove is considerably less impressive, but Ruiz has no need for a defensive caddy. Given Adams’ skillset, I expect him to eventually be a catcher for the Mariners.

19. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Austin Nola 294 .259 .332 .400 .320 0.9 -0.3 0.2 1.6
Jorge Alfaro 186 .242 .291 .382 .291 -3.8 -0.2 -1.2 0.5
Victor Caratini 128 .244 .325 .376 .304 -1.3 -0.1 -1.0 0.4
Luis Campusano 32 .244 .308 .415 .312 -0.1 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 640 .250 .317 .391 .308 -4.3 -0.7 -2.2 2.6

Barring some wheeling and dealing to bring in a big name, Luis Campusano is the future at catcher for San Diego, but that future probably won’t arrive in 2022.

Austin Nola could get more playing time than our predictions, but the Padres are likely to be fairly conservative with his time behind the plate after a 2021 season that saw him endure more than a few bumps and bruises. Nola missed a month due to a broken finger, two months with a knee injury, and then the last bit of the season due to thumb surgery. It’s unfortunate, too, as he’s developed into a solid defender, which is especially impressive considering that he was away from the position completely for five years after college.

The Padres are counting on Yu Darvish in 2022, and so are counting on Victor Caratini, Darvish’s personal catcher, as well. Like most Padres, he’d like to forget the end of last season, when he hit .235/.275/.306 from August 1 on, contributing to the team’s epic collapse. The good news for him is that his projections are relatively sunny.

Jorge Alfaro’s status as a former top prospect isn’t likely to earn him many more jobs, as the catcher turns 29 this year. He can still crush an occasional mistake, but he brings little else to the table outside of experience in the outfield. He probably isn’t long for the Padres if they find a better option in the next few weeks.

20. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Gary Sánchez 326 .209 .306 .433 .317 0.1 -0.6 -5.4 1.2
Ryan Jeffers 301 .216 .292 .398 .299 -4.3 -0.6 2.3 1.4
José Godoy 13 .240 .293 .358 .284 -0.3 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 640 .213 .299 .415 .308 -4.5 -1.3 -3.1 2.5

It’s really too bad that Gary Sánchez and Ryan Jeffers look nothing alike, or the Twins could try some grandmaster-level chicanery and have Sánchez get the at-bats while Jeffers takes all the defensive innings. With no chicanery in the offing, the team will be splitting playing time between an offense-first catcher and a good — but not elite — defensive specialist. It’ll get the job done, but won’t be all that exciting, and probably isn’t enough to put Minnesota’s catchers into the position’s upper-middle class. There was a point where Sánchez looked like a special offensive player, but we’re about five years removed now from when he appeared to have that kind of potential.

The Twins may have gotten better use out of this pair if they still carried an emergency catcher on the roster, a role that Willians Astudillo, who is now with the Marlins, could adequately fill. I think if I ran the Twins, Sánchez would be the primary starter, but when we got a bit of a cushion, I’d be aggressive about inserting Jeffers, even in the early stages of the game. Playing the game state with catcher substitutions may be worth a few runs, but you would need some sort of third catcher in case of injury. Carrying José Godoy for this purpose is probably not the best use of roster resources.

21. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tyler Stephenson 429 .265 .346 .419 .332 1.1 -0.6 0.4 2.4
Andrew Knapp 160 .212 .313 .336 .289 -5.3 -0.1 -3.1 -0.0
Mark Kolozsvary 51 .188 .275 .331 .269 -2.5 -0.1 0.4 0.0
Total 640 .246 .332 .392 .317 -6.7 -0.8 -2.3 2.4

With another 100 plate appearances, Tyler Stephenson would have made my NL Rookie of the Year ballot in 2021. The former first-round pick was used sparingly in 2020, so the Reds had good justification for slowly integrating him into the lineup, especially with the more-than-competent Tucker Barnhart as the incumbent starter.

In the end, how high Stephenson ranks may come down to whether his power develops. He was always expected to become more of a traditional slugger in the majors, and he certainly looks the part, but in practice, he doesn’t get a lot of loft in his swing and appears to be more of a contact hitter with ordinary power. Stephenson has good plate discipline and he’s young enough that you can at least envision him sustaining the batting average and getting to 20-25 homers, which ought to be enough to move him into the top 10.

Once you get past Stephenson, Cincy’s catching depth drops off alarmingly. Andrew Knapp is on the team with a minor league contract and will probably be on five different rosters in the next five seasons. Mark Kolozsvary lands on the depth chart basically by default; he’s an organizational player at best. There’s nobody on the horizon in the minors, either.

22. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Roberto Pérez 435 .205 .291 .353 .284 -13.1 -1.2 9.0 1.8
Michael Perez 160 .207 .279 .356 .276 -5.8 -0.5 0.5 0.3
Jamie Ritchie 45 .243 .332 .345 .302 -0.7 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Total 640 .208 .291 .353 .283 -19.6 -1.7 9.5 2.2

Jacob Stallings was a defensive star for the Pirates but given that this team would need intensely good fortunate to even make a run at fourth-place in the NL Central, it was hard to justify hanging on to a 32-year-old catcher with trade value. Replacing Stallings is Pérez, a defensive specialist who can do a pretty good Stallings impression in his own right. Pérez is no youngster, either, but he’ll do a reasonable job working with the team’s mystery pitching staff.

Michael Perez played a similar role for the Rays and will be Pittsburgh’s primary backup. When the time comes for 2021’s first overall draft pick, Henry Davis, he’ll have no trouble pushing aside either catcher or any of their successors.

23. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tucker Barnhart 371 .229 .305 .343 .285 -9.6 -1.1 4.2 1.3
Eric Haase 154 .218 .278 .410 .295 -2.7 -0.1 -1.0 0.4
Jake Rogers 64 .204 .284 .395 .294 -1.2 -0.0 0.2 0.2
Dustin Garneau 51 .203 .279 .391 .290 -1.1 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Total 640 .222 .294 .369 .289 -14.7 -1.3 3.1 2.1

He’s not an offensive force, but Tucker Barnhart is a top-notch defensive catcher and the right stopgap solution for the Detroit Tigers. One of the primary factors that will determine how good the Tigers become in the next few years is how effectively they can turn their stable of pitching prospects into major leaguers. I’d be very comfortable having Barnhart working with Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning, and the three or four real starting prospects the Tigers will have at Triple-A this season.

Barnhart is in the final year of a five-year deal, and he’s likely just the bridge to the team’s next backstop. Just who that will be is an open question. Jake Rogers was the most major league-ready catcher in the system’s high minors, but after last September’s Tommy John surgery, he’ll miss most of the 2022 season. As a result, Dillon Dingler, a second-round pick in 2020, has the potential to steal a march on Rogers while he’s out with injury.

24. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Martín Maldonado 454 .195 .281 .337 .273 -14.9 -1.6 4.1 1.2
Jason Castro 160 .213 .319 .389 .311 -0.3 -0.4 -0.6 0.7
Korey Lee 26 .240 .292 .376 .289 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 640 .201 .291 .351 .283 -15.7 -2.0 3.7 2.0

Even after the loss of George Springer and Carlos Correa in consecutive offseasons, the Houston Astros still have quite a lot of star power in their lineup. Catcher is one of the exceptions. Martín Maldonado is a very popular player and has a great reputation for working with young pitchers, but he’s not here to put runs on the scoreboard. The Astros don’t expect him to, either, and given how many raw young hurlers the team has refined into legitimate major league talent in recent years, it’s hard to protest too strenuously.

Castro was a surprisingly robust contributor with the bat in his return to Houston in 2020, hitting .235/.356/.443 (123 wRC+) over 66 games. He’s no threat to Maldonado’s playing time and is in town simply to be a competent veteran backup. I can’t really fault Houston for playing it safe here; they understandably like Maldonado, but there are going to be times in close games where you really do need to bring in a better bat, and Castro is a fairly safe spare option.

25. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Omar Narváez 371 .252 .333 .394 .317 -2.0 -0.8 1.9 1.9
Pedro Severino 250 .234 .302 .375 .295 -5.8 -0.6 -5.6 0.1
Mario Feliciano 19 .226 .274 .393 .286 -0.6 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 640 .244 .319 .386 .307 -8.5 -1.4 -3.7 2.0

Omar Narváez has had an impressive turnaround with the glove, going from being one of the worst defensive framers to one of the better ones in just a few years. The projections are very skeptical of the idea of him hitting 22 home runs again anytime soon, as he’s never been one to hit the ball particularly hard. But if his glove remains adequate, 10-15 homers combined with some walks and an okay batting average is good enough to be a league-average backstop.

Pushing Milwaukee’s ranking down is Pedro Severino, a player who doesn’t excite any of the projection systems very much. Severino probably got way too much playing time in Baltimore, and his career wRC+ of 81 isn’t paired with the defensive prowess to compensate. It would be nice to still have Manny Piña on the roster, but he’s caddying for Travis d’Arnaud and the catcher cupboard in free agency is just about bare now.

26. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joey Bart 371 .238 .290 .387 .293 -7.3 -0.4 -0.2 1.2
Curt Casali 256 .218 .306 .355 .289 -5.9 -0.4 -0.8 0.6
Jhonny Pereda 13 .230 .303 .323 .278 -0.4 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 640 .230 .297 .373 .291 -13.6 -0.8 -0.9 1.8

The potential for the Giants crushing this projection exists — if you remember 2021, you might be aware that they like doing that — but Buster Posey’s sudden retirement left San Francisco with a pretty big hole to fill. Given that Posey surprisingly played at an MVP-worthy clip last season, poor Joey Bart is basically being asked to fill in Chicxulub crater using the bucket and shovel from a child’s sand castle play set.

Bart remains a good prospect, but after an injury-marred 2019, a mildly disappointing debut in ’20, and an underwhelming 107 wRC+ in the Pacific Coast League in another not completely healthy season last year, it’s hard to project quick stardom.

There’s a lot of upside here given the hiccups in Bart’s development, but no team appears to be handing out full-time jobs to players hovering around replacement level and he hasn’t broken out yet. Curt Casali’s role will grow or shrink depending on how Bart fares.

27. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yadier Molina 416 .248 .292 .369 .287 -9.8 -1.5 2.9 1.3
Andrew Knizner 192 .240 .310 .373 .298 -2.8 -0.0 -3.1 0.4
Ali Sánchez 32 .238 .283 .330 .269 -1.2 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Total 640 .245 .297 .368 .289 -13.8 -1.6 0.0 1.8

Yadier Molina ending his career in a Cardinals uniform almost didn’t happen. Unsigned after the 2020 season, only a February deal (after some mild salary sparring in the media) kept the team from the awkwardness of seeing Yadi walk off into the sunset wearing the wrong colors. An August 2021 extension prevented a repeat of the prior offseason’s uncertainty, and with Molina’s retirement tour officially announced, he’ll have the chance to enjoy some veteran presents in return for his veteran presence.

Molina will likely make the Hall of Fame, and I intend to vote for him, but as a player right now? The seasons that made Yadi a Cooperstown candidate are all in the rear-view mirror. His bat is in decline, and his defense, while still more than adequate, is no longer awe-inspiring.

As long as Molina’s health holds up, he ought to get his normal spate of games, as Andrew Knizner has yet to make an ironclad case that grabbing more of Yadi’s playing time actually improves the team. In any event, I expect the Cardinals would be happier winning 89 games with Molina than 90 without him. He’s not going out on top, but he’s not going out at the bottom, either.

28. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
James McCann 378 .233 .293 .370 .288 -7.5 -0.8 -2.0 1.0
Tomás Nido 237 .221 .261 .354 .264 -9.4 -0.4 5.1 0.8
Patrick Mazeika 26 .224 .288 .370 .286 -0.6 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Total 640 .228 .281 .364 .279 -17.4 -1.2 2.9 1.8

In signing James McCann to a four-year contract, the Mets made a sizable bet that his .276/.334/.474 line over 149 games in 2019 and ’20 was far closer to his baseline than the .240/.288/.366 he posted from ’14 to ’18 while a member of the Detroit Tigers. ZiPS was skeptical, only projecting a .239/.297/.390 first year in Queens from Yasmani Grandal’s former caddy, which earned me a few Twitter DMs that aren’t fit to re-print on a family site.

In year one at least, ZiPS turned out to be mildly optimistic. McCann’s BABIP returned to right around his career average and the three ticks he added to his average exit velocity in 2019 melted back off with the Mets. His C-minus defense was a lot less of a problem when it looked like he was good for an .800 OPS. While all the projection systems anticipate a better season for him in 2022, it’s not enough to keep the Mets from ranking in the league’s doldrums at the position.

How do the Mets fix this? In the short-term: hope. The team made significant additions elsewhere on their roster this offseason, but catcher remains at the status quo ante lockout with three years to go on McCann’s contract. The plan is likely to have Francisco Álvarez shove him aside next year, but if McCann struggles this season and the team’s top prospect isn’t ready, I wouldn’t be surprised if they move on with a short-term deal for a veteran like Tucker Barnhart or Austin Barnes in 2023.

29. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Austin Hedges 390 .200 .257 .361 .266 -16.5 -0.4 10.4 1.4
Luke Maile 115 .204 .286 .302 .264 -5.0 0.0 0.9 0.2
Sandy León 96 .190 .252 .302 .246 -5.6 -0.3 0.7 -0.0
Bryan Lavastida 38 .246 .313 .385 .303 -0.4 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Total 640 .202 .265 .343 .265 -27.6 -0.7 11.7 1.8

Austin Hedges is one of the best defensive catchers in the majors. With the bat, Hedges is…well…one of the best defensive catchers in the majors. There was a brief period in 2018 when it looked as if Hedges just might figure out the whole hitting thing. If he had just managed to stay around a .700 OPS, his glove would have been enough to make him a solid starter, maybe in the top 10 in baseball.

Alas, that was not to be. Hedges has mediocre-at-best plate discipline, which wouldn’t necessarily be a fatal flaw if he made decent contact. He doesn’t, though, and his bat speed is barely sufficient to crush lousy fastballs, let alone the 97 mph cheese with wicked movement that half the pitchers in baseball seem to be able to hurl now. The glove mitigates the damage his bat does to the lineup, but not so much to keep Cleveland from ranking near the bottom of the league at the position. At least the team’s new mascot implies defensive rather than offensive excellence!

There’s nobody in the organization likely to push Hedges this season. Luke Maile and Sandy León are merely role players who don’t even provide the defensive advantages that Hedges does. Though ZiPS is optimistic about Bryan Lavastida’s bat, his defense remains a work in progress; in 123 professional games, he’s committed 19 errors, allowed 19 passed balls, and allowed 129 stolen bases. Bo Naylor’s dreadful 2021 season didn’t end his prospect status, but it certainly altered the timeline of when he could conceivably reach the majors.

30. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Elias Díaz 358 .264 .324 .435 .326 -4.6 -0.5 -3.3 1.0
Dom Nuñez 262 .203 .302 .401 .301 -8.7 -0.2 0.4 0.5
Carlos Pérez 19 .233 .285 .414 .299 -0.7 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 640 .239 .314 .421 .315 -14.0 -0.8 -2.7 1.6

And then there were the Rockies.

Elias Díaz is far from Colorado’s biggest problem, but he’s an underwhelming, unambitious solution. In fairness to Díaz, he did hit very well in the second half of the season, with his .866 OPS one of the reasons the Rockies came shockingly close to catching the free-falling Padres. Now, first half/second half stats aren’t really predictive, but it signals at least some potential for optimism, which tends to be lacking in Coors these days.

I’m happy the Rockies at least looked at Dom Nuñez last year. During 2020, the team showed little interest in seeing if his shockingly good line at Triple-A in ’19 (OPS of .921, 116 wRC+) represented a real improvement. And even if the answer was that it probably did not, it was nice to see him get more of a chance to answer the question in 2021.

Díaz is signed through 2024, but I doubt even the Rockies see him as the long-term answer. If anyone currently in the system is, it’s likely to be Drew Romo, the 35th pick in the 2020 draft. His debut was good enough to make the ZiPS Top 100 prospects and our prospect team believes there’s a good chance Romo will join their list next year.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Left of Centerfield
3 months ago

As a Cleveland fan, my reaction to the position rankings is always “scroll to the bottom, keep scrolling, gotta be there somewhere, ah there they are, not last, whew!”.

SpencerLBmember
3 months ago

As a Colorado fan, you’re welcome

Johan Santa
3 months ago
Reply to  SpencerLB

Rockies situation at C is so bad, they’re linked to an Orioles pitching prospect as their long term solution.

Dick Monfort
3 months ago
Reply to  Johan Santa

Got to get him as a free agent first. Then we can talk about switching positions.

joe_schlabotnik
3 months ago
Reply to  SpencerLB

how dare you disrespect the legacy of tony wolters like this

proiste
3 months ago

At least you have JoRam to give you a little shot of serotonin for the 3B round

Philmember
3 months ago
Reply to  proiste

Unless he’s been traded by then.

There’s always the starting rotation.

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil

The Guardians either need to extend Ramirez or trade him, because they either need him or someone else around when Rocchio, Freeman, and Valera come up to complement their current guys.

I can see why they don’t want to trade him, and if they could lock him up it makes more sense to do that. But if they can’t sign him, having a 6-win player at third base and replacement level players at C, 1B, and RF is not obviously better than having 2-win players at those spots and replacement level at third, and they’d get some new blood to help them contend with the next wave of prospects sooner.

Left of Centerfield
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I honestly have no idea what Cleveland’s plan is. They don’t seem to want to blow up the team. But they also don’t want to invest in it to make it better. Nor do they want to fully invest in their youth movement which is why they’ll likely have Oscar Mercado, Bradley Zimmer, and other retreads opening the season with them.

And the lack of a coherent plan is how you end up with a schizophrenic offseason in which they talk to the A’s about trading for Matt Olsen and to the Blue Jays about trading away Jose Ramirez.

Last edited 3 months ago by Left of Centerfield
sadtrombonemember
3 months ago

Cleveland historically has had one of the best front offices in the game, which is why their alumni are running teams literally all over the major leagues. But they’ve been exceptionally cautious ever since…2019, I think? I’m guessing this is a case where ownership doesn’t want to give them the resources to succeed but also isn’t letting them trade either of their two star players who would push them forwards (Bieber or Ramirez).

Roster resource has them opening up with a $56M opening day payroll, which is crazy low. They were probably just sitting there, hoping that one of Joc Pederson or Tommy Pham or Corey Dickerson wouldn’t find work and get desperate and sign for $5M or less, but it didn’t happen.

Instead they’re going to run Josh Naylor out there again whenever he’s fully recovered, but he couldn’t run before and now he’s coming off his ankle getting blown up, so even if he wasn’t a 1B-only guy before he is now. Nolan Jones is the other reasonable choice but moving him off now probably means he’s not the successor to Ramirez at 3B, which would be fine if Ramirez was sticking around long-term. Or Valera, but only if he hits his way to the majors…he’s probably more of an option for 2023.

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’m honestly not sure where he’d go as a good fit at the moment. Toronto filled that spot with Chapman. The Yankees got Donaldson and seem disinclined to part with top shelf prospects. And that’s before you get to a slew of contending teams (San Diego, St. Louis, Boston, Atlanta, Houston). You have some contending teams who would definitely want him, but lack the prospects to acquire him (Philadelphia).

So is it just…Texas and Tampa? Texas seemed like the a natural fit with the big prospect going back being Jung. Of course he just got hurt. Maybe some sort of prospect/young plauer smorgasbord with the Rays is the way to go.

sadtrombonemember
3 months ago
Reply to  gettwobrute79

Toronto was the obvious spot, but they went elsewhere. I’d love it if Tampa traded for him but that’s not at all how they do business. Maybe Philly if Cleveland loves Mick Abel, but I wouldn’t think that they do.

And that pretty much does it! They probably missed their window on this.

Left of Centerfield
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Supposedly Toronto was interested in moving him to 2B. But Cleveland’s asking price was too high.

tz
3 months ago

The only path I see to get any real value back is if a rebuilding team that’s willing to actually spend on payroll makes a deal for Ramirez with the intent to extend him (like ATL did with Olson). I could see the DBacks doing this, and he’d also be a perfect fit for the O’s

dl80member
3 months ago

If I were the Guardians, I’d listen to Kirk, Biggio, and Orelvis Martinez.

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

And I’d think you’d need a pretty good piece other than Abel too. It’s not quite how Tamp do business, but with a much tougher road in the AL East now, maybe they get aggressive.

It does feel like they missed their window. But maybe an injury happens to a 3B on a contender and a different team comes calling. San Francisco feels like a candidate in that camp.

formerly matt w
3 months ago

As a Pirates fan I had the opposite experience; look to the right of the bar chart, fail to see “PIT,” worry about my eyesight, realize there are somehow eight teams that grade out worse. Yikes!

We still have the backup catcher who last year had the worst BA of anyone with 230 PAs since Ray Oyler in 1968.

gettwobrute79member
3 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. Had no idea Roberto Perez grades out as roughly the same as Stallings. Other than Hayes and Reynolds at their positions, this may be the Bucs’ best showing!

Ivan_Grushenkomember
3 months ago

As an A’s fan I’m look forward to scrolling for the rest of positions