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  • Reevaluating the Catcher Trade Market


    Cody Christie

    Ryan Jeffers is the lone catcher on the Twins' 40-man roster, so it's a clear need for the team. What are some available trade options as the hot stove begins to heat up?

    Image courtesy of Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins still have plenty of confidence in Ryan Jeffers, but the club prefers to have catchers split time behind the plate. Last season, Jeffers hit .208/.285/.363 (.648) with ten doubles and seven home runs. However, those numbers only tell part of the story. Jeffers destroys left-handed pitching with a .909 OPS against lefties in 2022. The Twins will still use Jeffers against right-handed pitchers, but adding a left-handed hitting catcher would be the team's preference. Finding a southpaw backstop might be a challenging proposition. 

    MLB's Winter Meetings allow front offices to continue trade conversations, and the Twins have already discussed trading for catching depth. According to KSTP's Darren Wolfson, Minnesota has spoken to the Athletics, Blue Jays, and Braves about their catching depth. Let's reevaluate the trade options on each of these clubs. 

    Oakland: Sean Murphy 
    Murphy's name has swirled in the rumor mill over the last couple of days, with reports saying a deal was getting close. Atlanta (see below) was rumored to be involved, but the Braves have made it clear they are out of the running. Oakland wants to get major league ready players instead of prospects for Murphy, and they have shown the ability to be patient in the past. In 2022, Murphy hit .250/332/.426 (.759) with 37 doubles and 18 home runs in 148 games. He started 111 games at catcher last season and ranked ninth in SABR's Defensive Index. Murphy also ranks in the 96th percentile for pop time to second base and in the 86th percentile for framing. He is under team control for three more seasons, so acquiring him will take quite the offer.   

    Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno
    The Blue Jays have a surplus of big-league-caliber catchers on their roster, so it makes sense for the club to deal one of them. Jansen posted a 141 OPS+ in 72 games last season, but he isn't as strong behind the plate as some of the other trade options. Kirk is coming off an All-Star season where he accumulated 3.9 WAR, so it will be hard to pry him away from the Blue Jays. Moreno had an .806 OPS at Triple-A last season and hit .319/.356/.377 (.733) in 25 big-league games. The Blue Jays may want to hang on to their young catchers if a player becomes injured, but the Twins may have something to help Toronto's roster.  

    Atlanta: Travis d’Arnaud 
    Like the Blue Jays, the Braves have three MLB-caliber catchers on their 40-man roster. William Contreras broke out last season, which might allow the team to trade a veteran like d'Arnaud. Atlanta owes him $8 million in 2023, and there is an $8 million team option for 2024. Last season, he hit .268/.319/.472 (.791) with 25 doubles and 18 home runs on the way to his first All-Star selection. He is an above-average pitch framer (76th percentile) and ranked second among NL catchers in SABR's Defensive Index. If Atlanta acquired Murphy, d'Arnaud might be easier for another team to acquire. 

    The Twins clearly need to add to the organization's catching depth. Of the names mentioned above, d'Arnaud is a good target for the Twins. He doesn't form a natural platoon with Jeffers, but left-handed catchers can be rare. His years of team control and past offensive performance make him intriguing, especially if the Twins want an upgrade behind the plate. 

    Will the Twins trade for a catcher? Which name is the most logical trade target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    D’Arnaud’s 2021 wRC+ was 78. He had a career high BABIP last year. He seems like a buy high and we would have to count on him putting up another over 100 wRC+ at 34 to make it pay off his BTV cost. His projected WAR is just a little better than Narvaez and Vazquez. Is it worth that cost? For comparison his BTV value of 13.3 is within one of Jeffers, Buxton, Thielbar and Rodriguez. The only one I would consider trading from that group is Thielbar.

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    The problem with Murphy is he's expensive & demands prospects. And the problem with all those listed (and I'll throw in Valdez) are they all bat RH. Which doesn't solve the problem of Jeffer's problem against RHPs.

    Narvaez bats LH. he solves this problem. He is our man, unless someone can come up with someone better that bats LH or switch, that's available. This is only a band-aid,, we need a long term solution.

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    16 minutes ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

    Twins are going to add two catchers to the 40 man at some point this winter.  One will be straight up org filler, the other will be Jeffer's backup/platoon.

    Everybody you listed will cost more in prospects than the Twins are willing to give up.  Do not look for any major moves here either.

     

    It seems Sanchez does not want to be with the Twins (I wonder why) and Jeffers should be catcher no. 3 as even if his bat improves, I truly doubt his defense will ever be even average.

    They need a top line catcher, so opponents know that in at least x percent of the games it is not run-at-will.

    All the so-and -so out of the minors will be just great is bloviating; ten or so years ago , Buxton, Hicks, Sano were going to save the Twins, yeah right.

    One problem the that no quick fix will solve, even when the Twins were well in the lead this summer, the talking heads on news sports, treated them as a side note; mention of the Vikings got near as much blah, blah, blah all summer on the channels I watched.

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    Don't have a clue whether they will acquire them via trade, free agency, the Rule 5 or however.  But the Twins need 3 catchers.

    One is a solid vet who preferably bats left handed and will act as 1a with Jeffers being 1b.  The second is a vet, think Leon, who can be signed to a minor league contract.  He will begin the year in St. Paul and his experience should help those young pitchers who also should begin their year with the Saints.  He will be available to be added to the 40-man if/when catcher 1a or 1b goes on the IL.  

    The third is a solid big league prospect who is at least at AA.  It would be shocking if this young man were available in the Rule 5.  That means his acquisition will need to be a trade, although maybe their luck from last night will hold and they find this young man in the Rule 5.

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    If we’re never going to sign good players because it needs to meet this irrational, unattainable threshold of “making sense” and “fitting into the process,” how can you give away prospects for a player like d’Arnaud with a straight face?

    If we are going into spring training with that being the marquee off-season move - shut the whole thing down for all I care.  See if contraction is still an option, move to Vegas, whatever. I’m done.

    If they do that to supplement bringing back Correa and a quality bullpen arm or two - I’m listening.  I still won’t feel good about the way this steaming heap is being run, but I may be somewhat interested in the team’s performance.

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    8 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    The problem with Murphy is he's expensive & demands prospects. And the problem with all those listed (and I'll throw in Valdez) are they all bat RH. Which doesn't solve the problem of Jeffer's problem against RHPs.

    Narvaez bats LH. he solves this problem. He is our man, unless someone can come up with someone better that bats LH or switch, that's available. This is only a band-aid,, we need a long term solution.

    The strange thing about Jeffers is he has a better career OPS in games started by a right handed pitcher than left handed. The sample even on a career may not be significant but I think it is an artifact of batting near the bottom of the order and rarely seeing a right handed starter three times. Put him between two lefties and he is probably seeing a left handed reliever.

    I like Narvaez but I would go with the better defensive catcher between he and Vazquez. They have plenty of lefties that can pinch hit in a key moment late in the game.

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    10 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    The problem with Murphy is he's expensive & demands prospects. And the problem with all those listed (and I'll throw in Valdez) are they all bat RH. Which doesn't solve the problem of Jeffer's problem against RHPs.

    Narvaez bats LH. he solves this problem. He is our man, unless someone can come up with someone better that bats LH or switch, that's available. This is only a band-aid,, we need a long term solution.

    Not sure which problem bringing in a left handed hitting catcher that hit .205 against right handed pitchers last year solves.  The target needs to be Gabriel Moreno.  He hits right handed but hits right handers well.  Sure he'll cost but the return will be worth it.

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    7 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

    Not sure which problem bringing in a left handed hitting catcher that hit .205 against right handed pitchers last year solves.  The target needs to be Gabriel Moreno.  He hits right handed but hits right handers well.  Sure he'll cost but the return will be worth it.

    Narvaez's #s last season are an exception not the rule. His '21 #s are more inline to his avg,

    Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
    vs RHP 120   373 325 48 94 19 0 10 42 0 0 37 68 .289 .365 .440 .805 143 11 5 0 6 3 1 .332 116 123
                                                             
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    Out of the trade options, Manny Pina always made the most sense to me for who the FO would go after. He is coming off an injury but is easy to have him share time with Jeffers. He has also shown his bat can get just hot enough for stretches to help carry a lineup. He also shouldn’t cost much in prospect capitol to acquire. 

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    1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

    Narvaez's #s last season are an exception not the rule. His '21 #s are more inline to his avg,

    Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
    vs RHP 120   373 325 48 94 19 0 10 42 0 0 37 68 .289 .365 .440 .805 143 11 5 0 6 3 1 .332 116 123
                                                             

    How many times over the years have we been burned by something the we thought was the exception that was actually a  trend or a new reality?  Regardless, the guy hit under .210 in total last year.  Not somebody I'm betting the mortgage on.

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    21 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    The problem with Murphy is he's expensive & demands prospects. And the problem with all those listed (and I'll throw in Valdez) are they all bat RH. Which doesn't solve the problem of Jeffer's problem against RHPs.

    Narvaez bats LH. he solves this problem. He is our man, unless someone can come up with someone better that bats LH or switch, that's available. This is only a band-aid,, we need a long term solution.

    I really don't care if he hits RH or LH as long as he can hit lefties.

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    1 hour ago, darin617 said:

    Where is the simple and better option of just signing free agent Christian Vazquez? No need to waste any prospects when Vasquez is available.

    This is the allure of signing free agents - no need to trade our precious; sign Vasquez.

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