The free agent catching market wasn’t particularly strong at first, but it continues to shrink.
Austin Hedges was the last to sign, accepting a A one-year, $5 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hedges, who has spent the last three seasons with Cleveland, would have made sense if the Tigers had sought a defensive catcher first to pair with Eric Haas.
Tigers can go the other way, chasing someone like themselves Gary Sanchezwho has an aggressive record but questionable glove work.
New Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris knows Casale from his time in San Francisco. It could be a potential fit.
Plawicki could provide some insurance and might even be available in a minor league deal.
But if we’re really being honest, would any of the remaining Hunters really be finished Tucker Barnhart, who spent 2022 as the Tigers’ semi-regular catcher? If Barnhart is the best candidate left on the market — or the one that best suits the Tigers’ needs — then perhaps the Tigers should sit back.
Harris suggested that this is an option.
“The supply of talented catchers is very thin,” he said earlier this month at the MLB Winter Meetings. “It’s really hard to find a stable duo in the major league. There are a lot of teams out there looking for that. Luckily we have a couple of catchers who have a chance to stay with us for a while.”
Those catches are Haas and Rogers, who missed the entirety of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Haase will definitely be on the list, either as a starting player or as a backup player who works on the field. Rogers is the question mark.
If Harris decides the free agent market isn’t worth his time, the commercial market may offer some options.
The Athletics were reportedly asking an outrageous price for star catcher Shaun Murphy, which is why the league was stunned when they were last Trade him to the Atlanta Braves for what seemed like a bargain price.
The Toronto Blue Jays still have a surplus of catchers, with Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen and Gabriel Moreno also on the roster. Moreno will likely start the season at Triple-A if the Jays don’t make a deal, but they could free up a spot for him by trading Jansen.
Then there is the alternative card option.
One way for the Tigers to use their excess paychecks is to get “bad” contracts from other teams, perhaps with few leads.
The New York Mets aren’t known for pinching pennies, but they are They no longer have space in the list Catch James McCann and would love to offload the remaining two years and $24 million on his contract.
McCann, 32, played for the Tigers from 2014-2018 and was a popular teammate and well-respected fullback with an inconsistent bat.
Unfortunately, McCann’s offensive strength—hitting left-handed pitchers—overlaps with Haas’ best traits, so a traditional platoon won’t work.
If the Tigers go after McCann, they will likely view him as an expensive backup whose acquisition has been made more palatable by the inclusion of a few interesting young players.
Such a deal is of course far fetched. For one thing, Mets are Mets. Money is not an object. They may be content to simply eat McCann’s contract rather than give up anything of value to entice the team to take it.
And McCann would not only ban Rogers in 2023, but potentially ban Dillon Dengler or Josh Crouch in 2024. That wouldn’t sit well with Harris. Announced the intention to “allocate” the bat to young players.
If the Tigers were just looking for an insurance policy, they might already have one in 26 Michael Baberskiwhich will be available at Triple-A Toledo.
Spending millions more to get a marginally better plan B may not be Harris’s plans.