Catchers the Miami Marlins Should Target in Free Agency

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 01: Catcher Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 01, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 01: Catcher Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 01, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 28: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Miami Marlins need to solidify who’s going to be their backup catcher in 2020.

Jorge Alfaro is the undisputed starter for the 2020 Miami Marlins at backstop, but being a catcher in the majors is physically demanding. A backup catcher is important in that they can step in when the starter goes down, or give the starter an off day now and then.

For two seasons now, Bryan Holaday has been a very solid backup to Alfaro and J.T. Realmuto before him. Holaday was weak at the plate in 2018, with a .205/.261/.258 slashline, but more than made up for it by leading the National League with a 45 percent kill-rate on runners trying to steal.

This past season, Holaday only nabbed 20 percent, but his hitting was much improved over 43 games, to the tune of a .278/.344/.435 line. In 668 1/3 innings combined between the two seasons, he was guilty of one error and two passed balls. That’s incredible, if you didn’t know already.

Also logging time at catcher for the 2019 Miami Marlins were Chad Wallach, Tyler Heineman, and Wilkin Castillo. Will one of these four fill the coveted number two catcher roster spot for the Marlins? Will they dig deeper into the existing system? Will they look outside for help through free agency? How about a trade? We’ll have to wait and see how things develop in Spring Training, but in the meantime, we can make a few guesses.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MAY 05: Max Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves scores on a double by Ender Inciarte #11 during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 5, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

In System

I went on about this at some length in an article a few days ago, here. The Crib notes version is this – J.D. Osborne is likely the best hitting catcher in the system, outside of Alfaro and the 2019 version of Holaday. Nick Fortes, Dustin Skelton, and Will Banfield all wait in the wings, with Banfield as the heir apparent to Alfaro in a few years. Down at the rookie level, Casey Combs and Cameron Barstad lurk, if one of the others don’t work out.

As I’ve previously stated, I believe that Banfield is the answer to the long-term question behind the dish, and I think Skelton will shape into a fine backup in time. They won’t be ready for the 2020 season, so what about looking outside?

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