Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Photo

Behind the Dish: Twins Catchers in 2021

  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 David Youngs

David Youngs

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Twins Daily Contributor
  • 20 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 03:00 PM

There’s arguably no position in baseball more important than the man behind the dish. And while 2021 is still a ways down the road, the Twins will have to make some decisions regarding their catching situation thanks to an unexpected 2020 season behind home plate.2020 was supposed to be the year of Mitch Garver. Following a breakout year in 2019 highlighted by Silver Slugger honors, it seemed as if nothing could stop the craft beer loving, New Mexico State alum.

The baseball gods thought otherwise.

2020 presented a wide array of challenges for Garver. In addition to spending significant time on the Injured List, Garver had a career-worst year at the plate, batting just .167 with 12 hits in 23 games. Not ideal for a player who was expected to help anchor the return of the ‘Bomba Squad.’

Things got spicy when Ryan Jeffers entered the picture. The Raleigh, North Carolina native was called up in mid-August after Garver and Byron Buxton were both placed on the IL. Despite it being his MLB debut Jeffers did not look like a rookie, batting .273 with three home runs in 26 games.

And to make things even more complicated the Twins saw 26 appearances from seasoned veteran Alex Avila. Avila didn’t exactly break the bank at the plate, batting just .184 with a meager two RBI. Still, Avila managed to draw a decent number of walks and provided a valuable veteran presence in the clubhouse.

In a year where Garver, Jeffers, and Avila all saw similar playing time, there was one clear standout; Ryan Jeffers.

However, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg from the UNC-Wilmington alum. Bumping him immediately to the role of everyday catcher could be premature, considering he’s only had 62 MLB plate appearances.

There’s no guaranteeing that the Twins will have all three 2020 catchers next season. Alex Avila was signed to a one year, 4.25 million dollar contract for 2020. That’s up now and it’s unlikely that the Twins will keep Avila given his age and lack of production at the plate.

Yet there is benefit to carrying three catchers on an MLB roster; especially three catchers who have a diverse wealth of experience and differing talents. Let’s take a look at why each of these guys could provide value to the 2021 Twins.

Mitch Garver
Everyone deserves a second chance; and by everyone I mean Mitch Garver. There is complete validity behind the criticism that he received for his lackluster performance at the plate this season. Yet it’s important to remember that not only was Garver pretty damn good last year, but that he is by no means an MLB veteran.

Garver entered the league in 2017 and just finished his fourth season. In all retrospect, he hasn’t worn the hat of ‘starting catcher’ for a long enough time period to be considered a bust. And on top of his stellar 2019 campaign at the plate, Garver is rock solid defensively behind the dish.

Ruling Mitch Garver a bust because of a bad 60 game season in which he was injured would be wrong. Give him another chance.

Ryan Jeffers
The 2020 Twins Daily Rookie of the Year opened the eyes of Twins fans with his high powered swing and efficiency behind the plate. Jeffers was one of the few beacons of light on offense for a Twins team that underperformed all season at the plate.

There has been a strong voice for Jeffers to assume the role of starting catcher following an excellent rookie season. That argument was reinforced by Rocco Baldelli starting Jeffers in both playoff games against the Houston Astros.

Ryan Jeffers should play a significant role in fulfilling the catching duties for the 2021 Twins; that’s without a doubt. However, the young buck is far from being an old bull. There’s no hurt in easing Jeffers into the role of an everyday player. We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star.

Alex Avila
On a team filled with young players it’s important to have seasoned veterans like Alex Avila in the clubhouse and on the field. Not only has Avila been in the league for 12 years, he knows the AL Central better than just about anyone else. He’s spent seven-plus years in a Tigers uniform in addition to a season on the south side of Chicago.

There’s no denying that Avila’s numbers are declining. After winning the Silver Slugger in 2011 Avila’s numbers on offense have slowly trickled in the wrong direction minus a few spikes in Detroit. Despite his ability to draw walks it’s unlikely that the Twins will be able to rely on Avila’s offense if he sticks around in 2021.

Yet Avila’s leadership role could be especially critical in helping shape Ryan Jeffers into an outstanding Major League Catcher. The 33 year old has seen it all and can prove valuable amongst his younger cohorts.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

Click here to view the article
  • glunn likes this

#2 adorduan

adorduan

    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 796 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 03:09 PM

Just roll with Garver and Jeffers...

  • Danchat, Otwins, mikelink45 and 4 others like this

#3 High heat

High heat

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 132 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 06:24 PM

What do you do with Astudilo as well?He had a few good months 2 years ago but since then hasn't hit.His defense behind the plate isn't very good, he doesn't walk and he doesn't have a lot of power.

 

The position flexibility is nice but I believe he is out of options in 2021. 

Is it a for gone conclusion that we are moving on from him in 2021.I always thought he was a neat 3rd catcher with the ability to put the ball in play consistently and play multiple positions. 

  • mikelink45, Doctor Gast and David Youngs like this

#4 DocBauer

DocBauer

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 6,922 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 06:59 PM

There's an arguement to be made for Avilla, or someone similar, for all the reasons previously stated, including just depth. This may be more true if the roster remains expanded next year.

But you can't have Avilla back for anything close to what he made last season.
  • glunn and David Youngs like this
"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

--Lou Brown


#5 David Youngs

David Youngs

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Twins Daily Contributor
  • 20 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 07:34 PM

Excellent point! Should be interesting to see what happens. It seemed like the 'new guy charm' wore off this year as fans became frustrated with his aggressive plate appearances (good) that often resulted in pop ups (bad). I agree that his defense has been quite poor and that may keep him from making any sort of major impact in '21 unless it improves.

What do you do with Astudilo as well?He had a few good months 2 years ago but since then hasn't hit.His defense behind the plate isn't very good, he doesn't walk and he doesn't have a lot of power.

 

The position flexibility is nice but I believe he is out of options in 2021. 

Is it a for gone conclusion that we are moving on from him in 2021.I always thought he was a neat 3rd catcher with the ability to put the ball in play consistently and play multiple positions. 

 


#6 mikelink45

mikelink45

    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 3,560 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 07:42 PM

Good bye Avila - it is the only thing that makes sense to me.Three catchers is just too much luxury for the team. As much fun as Astudillo has been his story has gotten old, and yet I see him still retained as the third option. 

  • DocBauer and GNess like this

#7 Hosken Bombo Disco

Hosken Bombo Disco

    Minnesota Twins

  • Moderator
  • 12,590 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 07:43 PM

Jeffers was a very nice surprise. I wouldn’t get too down on Garver. Garver did look bad at times this year, but I’ll bet he’s the type of player who really benefits from a full spring training to work on his skills and swings. Next year he’ll have that again.
  • DocBauer likes this
He measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.
- J. L. Borges

#8 Rosterman

Rosterman

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 3,621 posts

Posted 18 October 2020 - 11:50 PM

Who else is there in prospect land and when can they come to the majors. 

 

I pictured Ben Rortvedt being a possible swing catcher. Needs another year in the minors. Is Caleb Hamilton in the mix as an emergency callup?

 

I'm sure the Twins could always sign Drew Butera for AAAA depth.

Joel Thingvall
www.joelthingvall.com
 


#9 whosafraidofluigirussolo

whosafraidofluigirussolo

    Member

  • Member
  • 242 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 08:52 AM

 

Who else is there in prospect land and when can they come to the majors. 

 

I pictured Ben Rortvedt being a possible swing catcher. Needs another year in the minors. Is Caleb Hamilton in the mix as an emergency callup?

 

Is Tomás Telis still in the Twins system? A new backup catcher doesn't need to be a young prospect. Telis could probably handle the backup gig if Astudillo and Avila left. 

 

The article notes that Garver just finished his fourth season as an argument that he's still relatively early in his major-league career, but even that overstates his experience a bit, since he spent a lot of 2017 season in the minors.

  • DocBauer and Richard Swerdlick like this

#10 twinfan

twinfan

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 144 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 09:19 AM

With the offense the Twins have when healthy, they can afford less offense from the catching position. I would keep all 3 if Avila is willing to take less than 2 million (I don't see another team paying him even that much). Garver will bounce back to a .280, 20 home run season in 120 games and Jeffers can fill in for 25 games. Avila is a good catcher, an insurance policy, experience for the younger players and a left handed bat against the tougher righties. All is dependent on health and whether there is a full season.


#11 Joey Self

Joey Self

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 44 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 09:33 AM

"We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star."

And what did we see in those pressure situations that make us think he needs "grooming time?"

JcS

  • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

#12 Joey Self

Joey Self

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 44 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 09:34 AM

 

 Garver will bounce back to a .280, 20 home run season in 120 games 

You may be right. 

You may not be. 

Because of the 2020 performance, I believe the Twins need to spend some time (and maybe money) thinking about plan B if this doesn't happen. 

JcS

  • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

#13 Shaitan

Shaitan

    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,541 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 10:17 AM

The original post says there is a benefit to carrying three (true) catchers.

 

What is it?

 

I see the benefit to carrying three when the third has positional flexibility, but none otherwise.

 

Experience? A bullpen catcher orcoach can fill that role.


#14 Shaitan

Shaitan

    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,541 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 10:19 AM

I think every team has 1-2 journeymen in AAA in the event of injury/emergency.

 

That should be the Twins' focus too.

 

Austudillo is a fun puzzle piece, but he's not the answer to a specific position.

 

Carry Jeffers and Garver and let them battle each other for playing time. Have a grizzled, glove-first backup with the ability to hit their weight on call just in case of injury or if Jeffers has a bad Spring Training.

  • Danchat and DocBauer like this

#15 joefish

joefish

    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 222 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 10:21 AM

I don't see Turtle on next year's roster. Or Avila. One of them has to go.
  • beckmt, DocBauer and Richard Swerdlick like this

#16 chpettit19

chpettit19

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 203 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 12:01 PM

 

"We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star."

And what did we see in those pressure situations that make us think he needs "grooming time?"

JcS

His 62 plate appearances is what makes us think he needs "grooming time." He did quite well in his first taste of the bigs, no doubt. Above and beyond expectations for sure. To expect him to do that for 120+ games now that the league has tape on him would be poor team management. Going into next year with him and Garver you have to feel pretty good about the catcher position, but Jeffers is not a finished product and shouldn't be viewed as guaranteed .270 and 15-20 bombs. The league is going to adjust to him and this year will be the toughest he's ever had as a ball player as he gets to test his ability to adjust to the adjustments. A close to even split between Garver and Jeffers is a real good place to start with a 2021 plan. A little insurance behind them is a great addition to the plan.

  • DocBauer likes this

#17 heresthething

heresthething

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 11 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 12:40 PM

I recall Gardy always wanted three catchers right?While I see the utility of it is this a common thing to do?And of all the playoff teams the last few years I wonder how many of them used up three roster spots on catchers?


#18 chpettit19

chpettit19

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 203 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 02:25 PM

 

I recall Gardy always wanted three catchers right?While I see the utility of it is this a common thing to do?And of all the playoff teams the last few years I wonder how many of them used up three roster spots on catchers?

With the 26th roster spot it's a little more tenable to carry 3 catchers and would make previous year's data on teams carrying 3 catchers not all that relevant. It makes most sense for teams with 2 primary catchers who have relatively significant platoon splits. If you have a righty and a lefty you can then pinch hit late in games to give you the platoon advantage and still have a catcher on the bench in case of injury replacement late. It is still challenging to get that 3rd guy regular ABs, though, even with the extra roster spot. Think it is a team to team situation depending on the skill set makeup, and strategy, of your roster. Useful for sub-happy teams like the Twins. Less useful for "here's my 9 best" teams who use bench guys as more strict backups.


#19 mikelink45

mikelink45

    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 3,560 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 06:11 PM

 

Is Tomás Telis still in the Twins system? A new backup catcher doesn't need to be a young prospect. Telis could probably handle the backup gig if Astudillo and Avila left. 

 

The article notes that Garver just finished his fourth season as an argument that he's still relatively early in his major-league career, but even that overstates his experience a bit, since he spent a lot of 2017 season in the minors.

One issue is not service time - it is age

 


#20 yeahyabetcha

yeahyabetcha

    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 31 posts

Posted 19 October 2020 - 07:16 PM

Garver and Jeffers handle the active roster. Two AAAA guys handle Rochester. Austudillo is released.