This is the first installment of the my free agency preview. I will be going through each position this offseason and analyzing the players that are hitting the open market. I will break them up by starter,platoon and backup. All of the players that I analyze I believe should be on a team’s opening day roster.
All-star caliber catchers are a hot commodity in today’s MLB. Catcher’s today have such a short time span when they’re body is still in good condition and they can produce above average offensive numbers. Most of the catchers nowadays bring most of their value defensively and teams rather not shell out big dollars to the guys behind the plate. However, there are still some catchers that are in this year’s market that can hit the ball pretty well. I personally am not a fan of spending a lot of money on a catcher because their body’s wear down more quickly and they don’t present the offensive value if you switch them to first base. In any case, here is the breakdown of this year’s crop of free agent backstops…
*The age is how old they will be on opening day
1. Matt Wieters (29): 75 games/.267/.319/.422/8 hr/-0.2 WAR
Matt Wieters is an interesting player. Built up as one of the future superstars of the game, Wieters never really came close to what many baseball people thought he could be. However, Wieters has been a solid catcher over his career so far, hitting for decent power and having a career batting average of .258. Injuries have plagued Wieters the past couple of seasons. It should be interesting to see how many years a team is willing to give him. I expect that a team will shell out some good money for him hoping that he hasn’t reached his peak quite yet. I would normally never spend big money on a catcher because of the volatility of the position and the lack of offensive output compared to other positions.
Expected Contract: 4 years, $62 million
Contract I would give: 2 years, $20 million
2. AJ Pierzynski (39): 113 games/.300/.339/.430/9 hr/0.2 WAR
Pierzynski came out of nowhere to have a very solid year for the Atlanta Braves. Coming into the season, the Braves envisioned a platoon situation at catcher between Pierzynski and young backstop Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt started off the season poorly, while the 39-year-old catcher was hitting very well. Pierzynski has been one of the more solid catchers in the league for the past ten seasons and his great season last year put him back on the map after a somewhat down year in 2014. I am concerned about Pierzynski’s age and being able to field his position, but I expect his power to still be there and for him to be a good option for teams looking for catchers in the open market.
Expected Contract: 1 year, $6 million
Contract I would give: 1 year, $5 million
3. Dioneer Navarro (32): 54 games/.246/.307/.374/5 hr/0.1 WAR
Navarro’s name was supposedly on the trade block when the Blue Jays signed Russell Martin last offseason. However, Navarro stuck on the team as their backup catcher and was pretty solid in his role. He is a player that will give you decent power with solid defense and throwing skills. Saying he is less than dynamic on the bases is an understatement, but his value comes from his ability to have power, as he hit double digits in both 2013 and 2014. He should be able to get a major league deal and have a role as a backup catcher at the least.
Expected Contract: 1 year, $3.5 million
Contract I would give: 1 year, $3.5 million
4. Jarrod Saltalamaccia (30): 79 games/.225/.310/.435/9 hr/ 0.6 WAR
Salty was not playing well by any means on the Marlins. He just flat out was not hitting the ball, which is something that he has proven he can over the years at the major league level. After being picked up by the Diamondbacks, Salty started to play more to his career numbers as he hit .251 with eight home runs in 70 games. I expect him to play more like he did with the Diamondbacks next season, but I’m not expecting to numbers that he has previously had. I envision him hitting around .245-.250 with 8-10 homers.
Expected Contract: 1 year, $2.5 million
Contract I would give: 1 year, $2 million
5. Chris Ianetta (32): 92 games/.188/.293/.335/10 hr/-0.4 WAR
Ianetta played in a lot of games for the Angels, but with mixed results. He did provide some power to their lineup and was able to walk a good amount to keep his on-base percentage higher, but he did not show the type hitting ability to warrant having a part time starting job on an mlb team. He can definitely be a valuable backup, but his time as a starter should be done for next season.
6.Brayan Peña (34): 108 games/.273/.334/.324/0 hr/-0.8 WAR
Pena has been the main backstop for the Reds the past couple of seasons.He has had a good average the past three seasons, hitting .273, .253 and .297 respectively. Peña does not give you anything from the power department. He should be able to make an MLB roster, but the lack of power and just average catching ability makes him more of a backup in my opinion.
7. Alex Avila (29): 67 games/.191/.339/.287/4 hr/-0.9 WAR
Avila has benefited from having one all star season in his career, but apart from that, he has pretty much been a dud for the Tigers. His swing is loopy and the only real benefit he gives you is his power, which he did not have last season. There might be a team out there willing to roll the dice and give him a major league contract, but I wouldn’t expect him to even close to those all star numbers next season.
8. Geovany Soto (33): 78 games/.219/.301/.406/9 hr/1.0 WAR
Soto was a backup catcher for the Rangers last season and did a solid job of controlling the game behind the plate, throwing out 30 percent of the runners attempting to steal. Soto is what he is, a backup catcher who’s value comes from his defense and his occasional power. He should be on an MLB roster, but one where there is a consistent catcher in front of him where he doesn’t have to be relied upon to contribute offensively on a daily basis.