2012 Free Agent Primer: Top 10 Catchers

What can I say about this year’s crap crop of free agent catchers? Maybe the top three will land in situations where they can get the majority of the playing time, but the rest are backups and/or the type of player you bring in to mentor a young up-and-comer.

Note: I did not list Jorge Posada as a catcher, because, well, he’s not one anymore.

Player’s age listed in parentheses.

1. Ramon Hernandez (36) – Hernandez’s career seemed to be in decline in after the 2006 season. However, he turned things around in 2010, his second season with the Reds, hitting .290/.353/.437 over the last two years. The Reds, however, have one of the top catching prospects in the game in Devin Mesoraco, along with the inexpensive line-drive hitting Ryan Hanigan, so Hernandez is likely moving on.

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Possible destinations: Pirates, Astros, Royals

2. Ryan Doumit (31) – Doumit is not known for his defensive skills behind the plate, but he had a bounce back season at the plate in 2011 hitting .303/.353/.477 with eight home runs in 236 plate appearances. The Pirates aren’t going to pick up his $7.25M option and his days with the team are likely done.

Possible destinations: Dodgers, Mets, Astros, Royals

3. Chris Snyder (31) – Snyder wants to return to the Pirates, but he’d prefer to return via the $6.75M club option, which the team has been reluctant to commit to. Understandably, hat’s a lot of money to commit to a catcher how missed most of 2011 with a back injury and has been worth only 1.8 wins above replacement over the last three years. If healthy, however, he should hit for some power and get on base at a good clip.

Possible destinations: Pirates, Royals

4. Jose Molina (36) – Molina BABIP’d his way to a .281/.342/.415 line in 2011, but don’t expect much more of that going forward. That being said, if he catches on somewhere, it will be for his defense and ability to work a pitching staff.

Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Mets, Astros, Giants, Phillies

5. Gerald Laird (32) – Laird never took off when his big league chance came with the Rangers years ago. He also failed to do much at the plate with the Tigers. Now, he’s in the World Series, but only as a backup to the Cardinals’ main man, Yadier Molina. There’s a good chance he’s back in the same roll next season.

Possible destinations: Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Phillies

 

6.  Henry Blanco (40) – If it’s a professional backup catcher you’re looking for, then Blanco is your man. He’s done a good job of upping his walk rate over the last two years. Chances are, he’ll be back with the D-Backs on a $1.15M mutual option.

Possible destinations: Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Giants, Phillies, Astros, Blue Jays

7. Ivan Rodgiguez (40) – While his offensive skills are all but gone, he can still do a decent job behind the plate. Perhaps some team will take a flier on him as a backup and/or mentor type.

Possible destinations: Mets, Astros, Giants, Blue Jays

8. Rod Barajas (36) – It looks as if the Dodgers are going with youth behind the plate for 2012, which means Barajas won’t be back in LA. Barajas isn’t much more than a backup catcher these days and he won’t give a team much more than a hollow 10-16 home runs with the bat. Look for him to land in a mentor type of situation at best.

Possible destinations: Mets, Astros, Giants, Blue Jays

9. Kelly Shoppach (32) – After hitting under .200 with nothing more than a .308 OBP in the past two seasons, it is highly unlikely that the Rays will exercise Shoppach’s $3.2M option, especially with cheaper, probably better options in-house. Since his defense isn’t a shining quality, his market will be limited.

Possible destinations: Mets, Astros, Giants, Blue Jays

10. Jason Kendall (38) – I have yet to see a report on Kendall’s right shoulder, the one on which he had season ending surgery in 2011, so it’s not known if his arm strength will return of not. While his bat has been missing for years now, he still has the ability to keep his strikeouts down and produce a decent enough OBP. Plus, he can still bring a veteran presence to the clubhouse, which might benefit a young team like the Astros and their young catcher, Jason Castro, who is also coming off of an injury shortened season.

Possible destinations: Astros, Royals, Giants, Blue Jays, Mets

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