Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

MLB Free Agent Power Rankings: Catchers

Join the Phillies as they plummet, screaming, into the gaping maw of free agency. One area where they need to make a move is catcher, where Carlos Ruiz is one of two of the team's potentially lost pieces.

1. Carlos Ruiz

The Rockies are poking around, but the Phillies should re-sign Chooch. It's the first right move they should make. His handling of the staff and defensive prowess make him a rare veteran gem on the market, already familiar with their system. Any offense is a bonus.

Have they done it yet, while you were reading this? Go check. 

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    2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

    Brian McCann would be a mistake. What if Dom Brown celebrates a home run? The Phillies’ catcher would emit an ear-shattering scream, then explode. And then we’d have to go with Cameron Rupp. He’s not ready to catch in a smoking crater that used to be his predecessor.

    Pros: Saltalamacchia had a break out year, and at 29 could keep it up in a multi-year deal, as long as he stops pretending to be a switch hitter. In ranking catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, Saltalamacchia has the highest current OPS at .804, even better than McCann.

    3. Brian McCann

    McCann is widely considered the best catcher on the market. He is likely pursuing 4-5 years/$70-80 million, somewhere where they play baseball without getting all rambunctious and foolin' about. The AL is his likely destination, if he's targeting the best deal possible, and his deal will see him enter his twilight years, they can gently push him into a DH or 1B role, neither of which the Phillies could offer.

    4. A.J. Pierzynski

    The 2012 Most Hated MLB Player is the bargin bin McCann, providing power, but deeper in his career and less disciplined. He's coming off a one-year, $7.5 million adventure with the Rangers, who just brought in Soto and aren't doing much to convinve Pierzysnki that he's their favorite guy. 

    5. Mike Napoli

    When he's not stumbling around Boston shirtless, chugging Fireball, he's providing clutch power for the Red Sox. Though he does have avascular necrosis, the condition that brought down Bo Jackson, and as a 32-year-old catcher/fan of Fireball whiskey, that's not tremendous news. Before the news of his AVN, he was about to get a $39 million, three year deal from the Sox, who whittled it down to $5 million and one year. He's a power commodity, and tops the free agent market.


    John Buck

    Somebody was going to benefit from an outburst of Buck-power one of these years. Turns out it was the Mets, this year. What a waste. Could be a fun back up, if he keeps those home run totals up.

    Kurt Suzuki 

    Definitely on the defensive side of the catching spectrum (+69.5 career UZR!), and potentially unaware that there even is an offensive side (no OPS over .686 since 2009!).

    Brayan Pena 

    Good for 60-70 games a season, and sometimes even an OPS over .700 every three or four years.

    Will Nieves

    Whoa, look at that .298/.333/.404 2013 slash line! And more realistic whoa, look at that far more accurate .226/.272/.296 slash line. Buh.

    Kelly Shoppach

    One of the examples of a fringier guy probably getting a solid deal due to a lack of catching talent in the Majors.

    Dioner Navarro

    Probably more of a stopgap on a team bleeding for a catcher, rather than somebody you'd want to stick in a Chooch-hole.

    Yorvit Torrealba 

    2013 made for five straight seasons of negative WAR.

    Henry Blanco 

    Don't look at this 2013 slash line: .125/.215/.240

    Oh god, you looked, run, RUN.

    Miguel Olivo

    From Marlin Maniac:

    "The Miami Marlins last season had the worst catching tandem in all of baseball. Jeff Mathis, Rob Brantly, Miguel Olivo, and Koyie Hill combined to hit for a lowly .192/.249/.280 slash line. The .235 wOBA and -1.8 WAR were the worst in baseball, by far."

    Humberto Quintero

    The Phillies ran an Humberto Quintero experiment already. Well, they were forced to. That's usually how Quintero gets on your roster.

    Geovany Soto

    The Rangers agreed to terms with Soto, without removing themselves from the McCann sweepstakes. 

    Jose Molina

    Had his option picked up by the Rays.

    Justin Klugh
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