Colorado Rockies: Is Tony Wolters a non-tender candidate?

On Friday, MLB Trade Rumors published their list of players in which they believe that there is a chance that they could be non-tendered and one of them was Colorado Rockies catcher Tony Wolters.

This offseason, like every offseason, will feature plenty of players that will be non-tendered by their respective MLB team. A team usually decides to non-tender a player (that is arbitration eligible) because poor performance, a high salary, an injury that will last into the upcoming season, or to give way to a younger player at a position. Teams are allowed to do this until Monday at 6 PM MT.

For the list of non-tender candidates, MLBTR compiled a list of 41 players that have a 10-20 percent chance or better that may receive be non-tendered by their team.

One of them listed was Tony Wolters but before we evaluate whether or not Wolters will be non-tendered or not, let’s take a look at the numbers.

For Wolters, during the time the Rockies played well, he played well and when the team didn’t, he didn’t. Here’s what I mean.

  • Beginning of the season through April 13:
    • 3-12 record (.200 win %)
    • Wolters hit .222/.250/.333
    • The team hit .203/.261/.313 and pitched to a 4.78 ERA
  • April 14 through June 20:
    • 37-23 team record (.617 win %)
    • Wolters hit .328/.405/.418
    • The team hit .288/.349/.501 and pitched to a 5.28 ERA.
  • June 21 through the end of the season:
    • 31-57 team record (.352 win %)
    • Wolters hit .222/.300/.268
    • The team hit .259/.320/.447 and pitched to a 5.89 ERA.

Considering how poorly he hit (and defensively, his DRS was high but his pitch framing metrics are not favorable), you could make a case that he could be non-tendered.

However, I think that it is very unlikely that the Rockies non-tender Wolters.

In fact, I would be stunned if they non-tender him.

As it currently stands, Wolters is the Rockies number one catcher. Number two on the depth chart is Dom Nunez.

The thing with Nunez is that his playing time in September was sparse (and it was one of the problems for him). In September, they gave him only three starts. Now, compare that to eight starts for Drew Butera, who in his 16 MLB games in 2019, was one of the worst catchers in baseball by fWAR and a -3.2 fWAR for the entire decade.

Considering that they gave Butera nearly triple of the starts than Nunez in September is not a good sign.

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Now, couple that with that the Rockies have said that they don’t have the money to chase after big time free agents, a decent amount of the catchers have already signed, and a franchise that has been known in recent years to not be fond of trading for (or away) players, the Rockies already have found themselves in a bind at the catcher’s position, not to mention the team, in general.

Overall in 2019, Wolters did not play well. In fact, like Chris Iannetta and Drew Butera, posted a -0.5 fWAR individually and all of the Rockies catchers combined to be 28th in wRC+ and fWAR. But the problem is that the Rockies, unless they have some trade in the works to acquire a big-name catcher, the Rockies are not likely going to be able to improve at the catching position.

Wolters is also projected to make $2 million in arbitration, which is very cheap so why would they non-tender him?

Even if they get a better and more experienced catcher to start the majority of games and makes more than Wolters, Wolters could easily be the backup (and mind you, he can play some of the infield positions too, so he would provide the Rockies with a more versatile bench).

In other words, despite his struggles (particularly in the last half of the season), don’t expect Tony Wolters to be non-tendered tomorrow.