Yesterday we started the discussion about potential free agent catchers that the Marlins may target this offseason. Catcher was certainly one of the weakest positions that the Marlins fielded in 2013 and really should be desperate for an upgrade. The tricky part that the Marlins must face is whether or not the struggles of Rob Brantly can be corrected. Prior to last year, they viewed Brantly as the catcher of the future in Miami. Now there are some significant question marks surrounding Brantly. Can his defense improve? Can he learn to hit left-handed pitching? Can he improve his pitch-calling behind the plate?
With these questions, the Marlins must decide whether they want to pay less for an older player as a stop-gap or invest big money into a younger free agent as the catcher of the future for the next 4 or 5 years. With that in mind, lets continue our free agent rankings at the catcher position. If you missed the first part of our rankings get caught up here.
We will get started with a player that was already being talked about in the comments section on part 1. Navarro served as the Chicago Cubs backup catcher last year behind Welington Castillo. Castillo reportedly was fine with the backup role, but one has to reason that no one in MLB wants to be a backup. With some of Navarro’s statistics he could find himself in fairly high demand.
I would be surprised if Navarro resigned with Chicago. I don’t believe they will offer enough money to a catcher they view as a backup, particularly if other teams are offering starting catcher money, which I believe Navarro is. Dioner ended last year with a slash line of .300/.365/.492 and a WAR of 2.0. While he has proven that he is capable of being a good hitter, my big issue with him is consistency. Since 2007, he has a batting average below .228 in 4 different seasons, and a BA over .290 in 3 other seasons. Not knowing which Navarro you are going to get can make it difficult to give him the money he will likely be offered.
Another surprising development has been Navarro’s decrease in defense. When he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, he regular scored toward the top in defensive metrics. Since leaving the Rays, his caught stealing percentage and his runs prevented numbers have all dropped. That might have something to do with switching from the A.L. to the N.L., but it is concerning nonetheless.
I expect Navarro to get a 4 year deal in the 12 million dollar range. I believe that the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers are top landing spots for Navarro, with the Marlins in the mix as well. Navarro is certainly high risk but may be worth the reward.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 5/10
Pierzynski is an intriguing option for the Marlins in 2014. The aging, yet durable, veteran is coming off of a one year contract with the Texas Rangers. Pierzynski is still a source of power, and doesn’t strike out much. He knows how to call a game and manage a pitching staff, and would certainly be better on offense that the Marlins existing options.
Pierzynski would be a good temporary solution for Miami as they continued to try to bring along their young catchers. We know that Jeffrey Loria loves to invest in older vets to go along with younger players, presumably because they are cheaper. A.J. can bring an attitude to Miami, and while he is routinely voted as a top antagonistic player, most who play with him love having him on their team.
I expect Pierzynski to sign a contract for 1 year, 5 million dollars. This type of contract would give Brantly one more year to get things figured out. It would also be expensive enough to take some heat off of Loria for a low payroll without committing too much long-term. The more I think about Pierzynski, the more I believe he might be in black and orange next year.
If Miami does not sign him, look for him to resign with the Texas Rangers or possibly head to Detroit to join the Tigers. Both teams are looking to make playoff runs right now, and could use his services.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 6/10
Bello, whom recently defected from Cuba, is an intriguing prospect that Marlins would be foolish not to keep an eye on. He provides some pop with the bat, and at 28 years-old, is at a prime age. Marlin Maniac Editor Ehsan Kassim recently had a great post about Bello and what he could provide for the Marlins. This past week he worked out for MLB teams in Mexico and is still trying to get all of his paperwork finished in order to sign with a major league club.
I really like Bello’s defense, particularly his arm. He has thrown out 50 percent of base stealers in the Cuban league. He is a solid backstop and what is known about him, is generally positive. With Miami’s proximity to a large Cuban population, it makes sense from a marketing standpoint, that the Marlins would pursue native Cuban players. They have reportedly been interested in the recent Cuban signees, but have been outbid for each one. I believe this will be the case again.
I think Bello will receive offers in the 4 year 50 million dollar range, way out of Loria’s price range. If the price is right, I am sure the Marlins will try to sign him, I just can’t see that happening. Look for Bello to be courted by the New York Yankees
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 2/10
This is just a handful of catchers that are free agents currently. Some of the more notable ones for Marlin fans are John Buck, whom the Marlins dealt away to Toronto in the blockbuster deal last off-season, and Koyie Hill, a Marlins backup catcher this past year. Both of those players are potentials to return for the Marlins.
MLB Trade Rumors posted an entire list of free agent catchers on their site. Here is that list along with their ages.
Henry Blanco (42)
John Buck (33)
Hector Gimenez (31)
Ramon Hernandez (38)
Koyie Hill (35)
Brian McCann (30)
Jose Molina (38)
Dioner Navarro (30)
Wil Nieves (36)
Miguel Olivo (35)
A.J. Pierzynski (37)
Humberto Quintero (34)
Guillermo Quiroz (32)
Carlos Ruiz (35)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (29)
Kelly Shoppach (34)
Kurt Suzuki (30)
Taylor Teagarden (30)
Yorvit Torrealba (35)
What do you think about the Marlins catcher situation? Who would you target if you were the Marlins? Let us know in the comments below.
Topics: A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Dioner Navarro, Free Agent Catchers, John Buck, Koyie Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, MLB, New York Yankees, Rob Brantly, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Yenier Bello