Colorado Rockies: Options to improve at catcher in 2019

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MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 4: Wilson Ramos #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 4: Wilson Ramos #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Tony Wolters of the Colorado Rockies
DENVER, CO – APRIL 7: Tony Wolters #14 of the Colorado Rockies jokes with the pitcher at the end of the eighth inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on April 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Incumbents

So if the Rockies were to add a catcher, what would become of the current crop of players? Butera is a free agent and is all but certain to move on. However, the Rockies retain control of the other three through at least the end of next year.

Of the returning backstops, only Wolters provided positive value and his modest 2019 salary ($550,000, his last year before arbitration) means that he could be a reasonable backup next season. Unfortunately, Iannetta’s poor production and comparatively large salary ($4.15M) make him more difficult to move, so it may be easier to trade or demote Wolters and to shift Iannetta to the backup role.

Colorado Rockies
Colorado Rockies /

Colorado Rockies

Grandal is a switch hitter that’s more productive from the left side, so he could form a decent platoon partner with either Iannetta or Wolters, both of whom have been better against lefties than righties for their career. It should be noted, however, that last year Iannetta’s splits reversed themselves and he actually hit righties better.

That brings up another possibility for the catcher position: Crossing your fingers and hoping for improvement. Iannetta is only a year removed from a 1.8 WAR season that saw him slash a respectable .254/.354/.511 for the Diamondbacks. Hoping for a catcher to improve his numbers at age 36 may be a lot to ask, but if he can approach those levels and Wolters can take a step forward (a possibility given that he’s still only 26) then maybe catcher won’t be such a black hole in the lineup for 2019.

Knowing the Rockies, this seems like the most likely scenario. The team could break camp with their returning players, then look to improve via trade midseason if things don’t work out. Free agents-to-be like Francisco Cervelli or Welington Castillo could be potential trade targets in this scenario, though forgive me if I’m less than inspired by these options.

Grandal seems to make the most appealing target based on his age, past production, durability, and performance against right-handers. It would also be exciting to see what he or Ramos could do with the bat in the thin Denver air, though given their potential price tags the usually thrifty Rockies may just punt the position in 2019.

Three potential trade packages for Nolan Arenado. dark. Next

The Rockies have been historically bad at catcher and 2018 was no exception. One final thought: in their 25-year history the Rockies have had All-Stars at every position. Every position, that is, but catcher. Maybe it’s time.

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