Colorado Rockies: Options to improve at catcher in 2019
By David Sharp
Behind Grandal, the next-highest WAR for a free agent catcher was the 3.1 mark compiled by Phillies (and Rays) catcher Wilson Ramos. The man they call the Buffalo has similar defensive skills to Grandal and he may be an even better hitter. Ramos hit a combined .306/.358/.487 last year, including a spectacular .337/.396/.483 after his trade to Philly.
Ramos is a year older than Grandal, however, and he also has two ACL surgeries in his rearview. In his nine-year career, Ramos has only surpassed the 100-game mark four times, making his future durability a question. Even still, after his impressive run with the Phillies he stands to make at least the $8.5M that he did last season.
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The 35-year old Suzuki found the fountain of youth in Atlanta the last couple of seasons, finding some late-career power to go with his usually steady work behind the plate. He’s hit 31 homers over the last two years, though 19 of them came during his impressive 2017 campaign.
In 2018, Suzuki slashed .271/.332/.444 in 105 games, though his 19% caught stealing rate was barely better than Iannetta’s.
Given Suzuki’s age and his decreased production in 2018 compared to the year before, it’s reasonable to wonder if his late-career renaissance is already over, making him a riskier bet than either Ramos or Grandal. On the other hand, he only made $3.5M last year and is unlikely to find someone willing to pay him any more than that.
Other free agent options could include Martin Maldonado, Nick Hundley, Matt Wieters, A.J. Ellis, Devin Mesoraco, and our old friend Jonathan Lucroy. All of these catchers provided more value than any of the current stock of catchers did last year, though only slightly.