Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Spring Training in about three weeks but a slow offseason means there are still plenty of free agents out there. MLBTR already took a look at the center fielders still available and will now take a look at some notable catchers.
- Gary Sánchez: Sánchez has always had big power in his bat, having launched 173 home runs already in his career. But he’s often paired that with low batting average/on-base numbers, strikeouts and questionable defense. He wasn’t able to secure a major league deal last offseason, signing a minor league pact with the Giants and then opting out and signing another with the Mets. The latter club added him to their roster but quickly put him on waivers, with the Padres putting in a claim. From there, he went on to have a terrific season. He hit 19 home runs in just 75 games, keeping his strikeouts to a palatable 25.1% clip before a wrist fracture ended his season in September. His glovework has also improved lately, relative to earlier in his career. His joining the Padres coincided with Blake Snell completely turning his season around and eventually winning a second Cy Young. Snell spoke positively of his relationship with Sánchez during the year, as relayed by Dennis Lin of The Athletic, perhaps suggesting his game-calling could be viewed as a plus. There are warts on his profile but he’s clearly a strong player and should be able to find a better deal than he did a year ago. He’s going into his age-31 season.
- Yasmani Grandal: Grandal has long been a strong backstop on both sides of the ball, but he has tapered off lately. He hit .240/.355/.451 from 2012 to 2021, combining power with a keen eye at the plate, but that batting line has dropped to .219/.305/.306 over the past two seasons. He’s still a strong framer and was good against lefty pitchers as recently as 2022. The switch-hitter slashed .257/.409/.365 against southpaws that year but just .186/.265/.241 against righties, though that split evened out last year. Now 35 years old, he may not be able to get a job as a club’s primary catcher, but his defense, framing and switch-hitting ability should make him a fit somewhere.
- Curt Casali: Casali has never been more than a part-time player, but he’s been a solid one. He’s appeared in each of the past 10 MLB seasons, though never in more than 84 games in any individual campaign. He has popped 47 home runs in 1,454 plate appearances while walking at a 10.7% rate, leading to a .220/.314/.380 batting line. His 89 wRC+ is below average overall but pretty close to par for a catcher. He’s generally considered a capable defender as well. He’s coming off a disappointing season wherein he hit poorly in 40 games for the Reds before landing on the injured list in July due to a foot contusion and not returning. He’s now going into his age-35 season.
- Manny Piña: Similar to Casali, Piña has long been a serviceable part-time catcher. He has appeared in 10 MLB seasons, only twice playing more than 76 games. He’s hit 43 home runs in his 1,255 plate appearances and slashed .243/.312/.410 for a wRC+ of 91. He’s only played nine big league games over the past two years, primarily due to wrist issues. He underwent surgery in May of 2022 while with Atlanta, then was flipped to the A’s going into 2023 as part of the Sean Murphy deal. The wrist issues lingered into last year and he was released in August. He’s now going into his age-37 season.
- Mike Zunino: As recently as 2021, Zunino showed off his huge power at the plate, launching 33 home runs for the Rays. But the year after, he required thoracic outlet surgery and wasn’t able to bounce back. The Guardians gave him a one-year, $6MM deal for 2023 but he was nowhere near his previous self. Strikeouts have always been a problem for him even when he was at his best, as evidenced by his career rate of 35.1%. However, that rate was all the way up to 43.6% last year as he hit just .177/.271/.306. Zunino was released in June and didn’t sign with anyone else after that. His defense is considered strong, so he could be a useful player if his offense improved with a bit more remove from his surgery. He’ll be 33 in March.