Last month, I wrote about the Colorado Rockies’ need for a catcher. To summarize, it was one of the only positions on the field that the Rox truly struggled in 2018, compiling an overall -0.3 WAR.
There are some free agents out there that could help, including Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos … but these aren’t the Colorado Rockies’ only options. There are also a few backstops out there on the trading block that could provide improvement over last year’s crew of Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy, and Drew Butera.
The Big Prize
The most obvious option out there for the Rox is all-but-former Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto both led all catchers in WAR last season and has formally asked to be traded out of the ever-rebuilding situation in Miami.
Realmuto slashed .270/.340/.484 last season on his way to hitting 21 homers, 74 runs, and 74 RBI. He also caught a ridiculous 21 out of 34 attempted base stealers, a rate well above the league average of 28%.
The Marlins are thought to be looking for a pretty big haul for Realmuto, which makes sense given the overall lack of depth at the position across Major League Baseball. With the Rockies in win-now mode however, Realmuto has the potential to be the type of difference maker that could push the team to the next level.
Francisco Cervelli may not be a superstar, but he has an excellent reputation around the league as a quality backstop. He finished with a 2.6 WAR, good for 6th in MLB, despite only playing 104 games.
Cervelli is known for his superior on-base skills, leading all MLB catchers (with more than six plate appearances) with a .378 OBP. He also provides a little bit of pop, having hit 12 homers and 15 doubles in his 332 at-bats.
The Pirates seem to be open to trading Cervelli and his price tag would be considerably lower than Realmuto’s in terms of the assets that they would have to give up. It should be noted, however, that, salary-wise, he’s much more expensive.
Cervelli is scheduled to make $11.5M next year, the final year of his contract. Realmuto, on the other hand, is eligible for arbitration the next two years after making only $2.9M last season.
The Dark Horse
There hasn’t been the same kind of buzz around Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez as there is around Cervelli or Realmuto. However, given his age (29 in 2019) and the Royals’ rebuilding ways, they may be open to making a deal for the six-time All-Star.
Perez is currently set to make $11.2M in 2019 and $14.2M in both 2020 and 2021, a price tag that may be too high for a team that is still several years from contention. On the other hand, he’s also one of the last links to their 2015 championship and provides valuable leadership in the clubhouse, so prying him away could be difficult.
There are other potential trade options out there, like the Blue Jays’ Russell Martin or the White Sox’ Wellington Castillo. However, they represent a less obvious upgrade over the current roster options.
Catcher is possibly the most difficult position on the diamond to fill competently and the physical demands often lead to regression – just ask Chris Iannetta.