I will start it off by saying, this is just an idea, I am not saying it should or will happen. I am also not saying it is a terrible idea and it could possibly work. With that being said, here we go.
The Twins currently have 2 very good catchers, one being Mitch Garver, a well above average batting catcher who is nearly 31 years old. The other, Ryan Jeffers, a 24 year old catcher who underperformed with his bat this past season. While neither player is an AL MVP candidate Twins are likely set for the coming years with this duo. But I recently had a thought that I will explain below.
Mitch Garver is a beast with the bat, no doubt about it. But he is getting up there in age for a catcher, being 31 years old by next opening day. If I remember right, that is the age that Joe Mauer moved over to 1B full time. Currently, the Twins are set at first base, with Alex Kirilloff, the expected 1st Baseman for the better part of the 2020's, and Miguel Sano, who appeared to have finally figured something out towards the end of the 2021 season, holding down the position. Nobody is saying that Garver will not catch for another 5 years, but the odds are pointing against it. Garver had a career year in 2019, a horrible year in 2020, and looked to have bounced back in 2021, but was injured for a lot of it. Mitch Garver currently has a 10.9 trade rating on baseballtradevalues.com.
Ryan Jeffers was a former highly regarded prospect within the Twins system. He debuted in 2020, hitting .273 with 3 homers in 62 Plate Appearances. However, in 2021 he took a massive step back offensively, hitting below the Mendoza line, although he showed solid power hitting 14 home runs in 293 Plate Appearances. He also struck out at a nearly 37% clip. Jeffers was drafted as a bat first catcher, but has turned into a very good defender, which is more important for a catcher than any other position, being directly involved in every play. Jeffers is rated at 19.2 on baseballtradevalues.com.
Now, we look at the primary catchers for the 2 best teams in their own respective leagues, Travis d'Arnaud and Martin Maldonado. We will start off with d'Arnaud. He hit .220 with 7 homers in the regular season for the eventual World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves, and posted an 0.2 WAR. Maldonado for the Astros hit .172 with 12 bombs, posting a -0.1 WAR. I am not saying that just because these teams had average to below average hitting catchers with very strong defense it improved their World Series odds, but I am saying there could be something to be taken away from that.
Catcher is the most important on the field defensively, calling pitches, controlling baserunners, aligning defense, etc. But offensively they can get away with things that other positions can't like low averages, low power, etc. which makes a lot of sense. Catching puts a lot of wear and tear on the body causing many to eventually move away from the position or retire early, like Posey and Mauer.
The Twins have frankly been spoiled at the position offensively since 2019, and they could try a different approach to fill other holes in 2022. The Twins have a massive need for top of the rotation type pitching, and with many 2022 offseason blueprints being posted on Twins Daily, a catcher is often in a trade to acquire said pitching. I have seen both Garver and Jeffers name thrown around in those blueprints as trade bait for a high end starter. But what if I said the Twins should trade both of them. They both have very good value and could be a solid part of a package to bring back good pitchers. Jeffers has about twice as much value according to a website, but Garver could be a huge addition to almost any team being a veteran and above average hitter. It is better to trade a low risk player away a year too early rather than a year too late. Especially with catchers and freak injuries.
Say the Twins do trade both away, then what would we do? The Twins have Rortvedt making the league minimum and providing stellar defense, even better than Garver and Jeffers. Rortvedt's huge downside is his bat. In 2021 Rortvedt hit .169 with 3 homers in 98 Plate Appearances. He also struck out at around a 30% rate. If Rortvedt can hit around .200 and cut down the strikeouts a bit, he could become a solid catcher for years to come. That solves half of the puzzle, now what do the Twins do about the other catcher? There are many low risk, low reward catchers available in free agency this offseason that could be had for 1 or 2 year deals at very low prices. Possibly a right handed bat to platoon with Rortvedt, a lefty, like the Twins did in 2019 with Castro and Garver. Although Rortvedt and another catcher wouldn't be as nice offensively as Jeffers and Garver, it could be very nice defensively, which is what a catching tandem needs most. For a catcher 3 or 4, they can call on a guy in AAA or AA to fill in for a week or two.
What I have noticed is that an offensive catcher is just a cherry on top, not needed, hence the Astros and Braves making the World Series with their average offensive catchers. Defense is needed much more and strong offense can only overshadow bad defense so much *cough cough Gary Sanchez* I am also not saying the Twins are as talented as Houston or Atlanta at other positions, but filling the holes through trading the catchers could make it much closer. Although this isn't the prettiest or nicest plan to hear as a fan, it could be what is needed for the Twins to jump back into contention and fill the holes. Leave a comment on what you think about this, and don't be afraid to say if you think its garbage, just have some reasoning and I'll happily discuss. Thank you for reading.