Saturday night, the Red Sox lost Christian Vazquez to a broken pinkie. As of this writing, it is still unclear just how much time he will miss, but as we discussed earlier this morning this is going to be a blow to the roster. Sandy León is going to be playing a much bigger role than he ever has, and Blake Swihart is going to be a real catcher for the first time all year. There’s a chance this will all work out fine — León has been playing really well lately and Swihart has the potential we’ve all been talking about for years now. There’s also a chance that it does not, and that the team is not comfortable with their Triple-A depth. With that in mind, it’s possible that they could look to the trade market to upgrade their roster. Here’s a look at some catchers who could be available before the deadline.
The prize of the catcher market is very clear this season as the Marlins continue to tear down their roster. Realmuto is one of the very best catchers in baseball as he plays good defense and puts up great numbers at the plate, particularly for the position. This year has been even better than usual, as he’s hitting .305/.358/.535. We’re also talking about a 27-year-old who is under team control through the 2020 season. He is going to be a hot commodity, and unfortunately he’s going to cost a lot in terms of prospects. Even if the Red Sox were interested, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to put together a package good enough to get him.
Realmuto is the prize of the catching market this year, but Ramos is the prize rental. The Rays and Red Sox don’t make a ton of trades, but if the price is right they could come to a deal. Ramos brings more offense than the Red Sox have gotten from their catchers over the last few years and the 30-year-old is hitting .287/.339/.463 on the year. He’s about to hit free agency after this season so the cost shouldn’t be too exorbitant, but if the market gets large the Rays could look to trade him out of the division.
This is an underrated rental possibility. Chirinos does not have the name value of the first two names on this list and he isn’t as good. That being said, he is fine behind the plate and had been an above-average hitter for three years prior to 2018. He’s been slightly below average this year due to batting average, but with the bat his big calling card is power and he would add a layer that the bottom of the lineup is currently missing. I also can’t imagine that the Rangers would ask for too much in return for the rental.
I’m still not entirely sure what the Athletics’ plan is for the trade deadline as they are closer to the postseason than many realize. Still, they could very well try to sell off select pieces, and Lucroy could be one. He’s not at all the player he once was, but he’s still a veteran with solid skills and a proven track record in the majors. You never know what Billy Beane will want in a trade, but if the price is relatively cheap this could be a solid buy-low opportunity.
I play a lot of fantasy baseball, and Mesoraco is that guy that I just was never able to quit. A former top prospect, he had a huge year back in 2014 but has battled extreme injury issues since then. He’s never lived up to that potential and earlier this year he was swapped for Matt Harvey in a deal including two disappointing former top prospects. Now, Mesoraco is playing pretty well with the Mets. It’s only been 129 plate appearances, but he’s .239/.333/.460 and will be a free agent this winter. It’s a name to watch, at least.
Those are the main targets, but there are a few other names who could emerge in surprise scenarios. Salvador Perez, for example, is on a Royals team that appears headed for a long rebuild. He is the face of the franchise these days and I’d be shocked if they moved him, but stranger things have happened. In Cincinnati, the Reds are clear sellers and have one of the more underrated catchers in the game in Tucker Barnhart. He was just recently given an extension so a trade is unlikely, but if he was available he’d become my favorite target. Yamsani Grandal is going to be a free agent this winter and the Dodgers have Austin Barnes, but the latter is struggling this year and the team is in contention. I can’t see them moving Grandal.