The ball catchers aren’t the fastest among the ball catchers, but this winter they’ve been rolling like hot potatoes. Wilson Contreras He went to St. Louis heir Molina runsHis throne. Shaun MurphyAnd the William ContrerasAnd the Manny Pina Switch places in The biggest trade in the season is hot stoves. ancient warrior Christian VasquezAnd the Mike ZuninoAnd the Luke Miley Change the uniform as well. With the current situation, more than a dozen clubs will have a new primary catcher in 2023.
The dribbling has continued over the past week, with news of three more groups making teams move. On December 15, he was signed by the Mets Omar Narvez to a one-year, $8 million contract with a player option worth $7 million for 2024. Two days later, the Pirates signed Austin Hedges on a one-year, $5 million deal. Then, late on December 21, the Mets fielded James McCann to the Orioles for a player to be named later. Hedges and McCann had already been added to the Pirates’ and Orioles’ rosters, respectively; The Mets have yet to announce Narváez.
Austin Hedges drops anchor in Pittsburgh
I’ll start with Hedges, whose deal was the first to be finalised. It’s the dictionary definition of catch defense first. Among the nearly 300 active players with at least 1,200 matches, he is the only With a career batting average under .200, an on-base percentage under .300, and a slugging percentage under .400 – a highly respected hitting streak of .100/.200/.300. His 54 wRC+ career is the second-lowest mark among active hunters (with a minimum of 300 PA), and that number actually looks good compared to his 39 wRC+ since joining the Guardians at the 2020 trade deadline.
Fortunately, things are much rosier on the other side of the fence. In 105 games behind the plate last season, Hedges was worth 8 DRS and 4.4 innings framing. His pop time to second base ranked at 64 percent. Those numbers were even better in 2021, when he was worth 12 DRS, 5.8 framing turns, and his pop time spent ranked 74 percent. He’s done a particularly excellent job of limiting passed balls, having allowed just three in the past two seasons. Hedges is also a talented game caller, W.H Ability to work with and support the promotion team It is one of his greatest strengths.
There was a time when Hedges had an excellent defense enough to outrun a dead bat; From 2017-19, he was worth 5.6 WAR in 313 matches, though 69 wRC+. Unfortunately, when the elite defense began to slip and his offense worsened in some way, he could no longer make up his bat with his glove. Over the past three seasons, he’s worth -0.6 WAR in 228 games:
The last three seasons of Austin Hedges
On the bright side, the hedges should be due to slightly positive slope going forward. His 193 BABIP in 2022 was low, even for a slow-moving player. He also showed improved plate discipline last season, swinging fewer pitches but creating more contacts. As a result, he shot less and put the ball into play more. Never will be Hassan hitter, but if he raises his offensive numbers a bit in 2023, he could be better than replacement level. ZiPS projects for him For the next 0.8 WAR season on the back of a .184/.251/.293 slash. Believe it or not, these are better numbers than in 2022.
Hedges is a perfect fit for the Buccaneers, who aren’t looking to win in 2023 but can get a veteran caller to work with their small staff. It will provide some stability in the position that Pittsburgh struggled to fill last season. On top of that, he’s a good enough choice to start at catcher all year, but could easily return to a bench role if prospects are high. Henry Davis or Andy Rodriguez Make their way to the majors.
The Pirates isn’t undergoing a complete revamp this winter, but with the addition of players like Hedges, along Carlos SantanaAnd the Ji Man ChoiAnd the Vince VelasquezAnd the Garlin Garcia, they raised their land. If enough young players make a step forward, Pittsburgh has an outside opportunity to make some noise in the weak NL Central. At worst, this team will be more watchable than last season.
Omar Narvaez joins the Mighty Mets
Narváez ranked 45th among us Top 50 Free Proxies, the second best mask on the list. He ended up matching crowdsourcing’s average estimate to his contract, getting a guaranteed $15 million over two years. However, he didn’t earn nearly as much Vasquez, the third and final catcher in our top 50 rankings. Narváez might have won more years or dollars if he hadn’t been given a player option contract. By signing this deal, it appears he wants to boost his value in 2023 in hopes of securing an even bigger payday for 2024 and beyond.
It’s not a bad idea on his part. Narváez had his best season in 2021, scoring 100 wRC+ along with impressive defensive numbers. For the first time in his career, he was a true balance on both sides of the ball. He could have commanded a big contract had he been able to go into free agency that winter, when he was the best catcher available. Jan Gomez. Instead, he moved to the open market this year after a surprisingly poor showing in 2022. He started strong, hitting .275/.368/.422 in April and May. Things went downhill from there, unfortunately, as he hit .148/.219/.205 in the second half and had to share more playing time with the backup Victor Karatini. Narváez posted progressively worse numbers each ensuing month, hardly a promising showing from a player in the year of his free agent career:
Omar Narvaiz 2022 wRC + per month
|April / May||117||124|
|September / October||58||6|
Like Hedges, Narváez should expect some positive dips in 2023. From June through October, he had a .188 BABIP, well below his career mark of .302. Eventually, the more balls he puts into play will start to fall for strikes. With that said, it seems unlikely he’ll ever get his BABIP back above . 300 over an entire season. Already a poor hitter, he made less difficult contact than ever in 2022. His hit rate of 18.4% (per statcast) was the lowest since his rookie season, which puts him somewhere nearby among the fearsome players. Stephen Kwan And the Tony Kemp. Meanwhile, his average exit speed places him in the bottom 1% of hitters, sandwiched between notorious power batters Molina and Victor Robles.
To make matters worse, Narváez’s racing speed was also down, dropping to the second percentile; It took him five more seconds, on average, to reach first base than it did last year. Thus, Steamer has matched its predicted .236/.314/.354 slash with a .281 BABIP. It’s not quite the offensive heights at his peak, but it’s still much better than it was in 2022. His 96 WRC+ projection was above average for a catcher, and his 2.0 WAR projection would get him a huge boost the following season if he steps out of his contract.
On the defensive side of things, Narváez continued to flash leather in 2022. From 2018-’19, he was ranked as the worst defensive catcher in the sport by DRS and framing runs. However, since joining the Brewers, he has shown exponential growth, turning into one of the best linebackers in the game. In fact, Milwaukee has proven to be a mecca for ad makers in recent years. In addition to Narváez, the brewers have helped Piña and Caratini become powerhouse brewers, and they’ve also prioritized great brewers in free agency, including Jasmine Grandal And the Eric Kratz. The Brewers lead the sport with 29.5 punting turns since 2020, and Narváez is responsible for 20.2 of them. He’s ranked among the top ten starters in each of the past three seasons:
Top 10 Presentation Designers by Season
The Mets already have a solid framer on the roster Thomas nest, and he and Narváez could combine to give the Mets the best framing tandem in the league. The two should also make a good offensive platoon; Left-handed Narváez has better career numbers against right-handers, and right-handed Nido prefers facing southpaws:
Professional faction splits
|player||wRC+ vs. RHP||wRC+ vs. LHP|
Narváez might also make a good pair with the Mets’ top prospect Francisco Alvarez, another righteous who describes him as a terrific hitter but a suspect defender. If/when he makes his way into the majors, left-handed Narváez will be a better partner than Nido, and will probably free him up to be a trading chip on Deadline.
It’s easy to overlook Narváez’s signing considering everything else the Mets have done this offseason. But while he is not calm Justin Verlanderor Kodai Senga or Carlos Correa (or whoever else the Mets have signed at the time you’re reading this) Narváez makes New York a better team. In the highly competitive NL East, every advantage counts.
James McCann is looking for a fresh start in Baltimore
With Narváez in the fold, the Mets found themselves with an overabundance of running backs, so they sent McCann (and $19 million) to the Orioles late Wednesday night. McCann was expendable, and Billy Eppler had to delist him to free up a replacement spot for him. The Mets are still figuring out how to whittle down their 40-man roster after such an eventful season.
Just two years ago, McCann was a key signing for New York – the first signing of the Steve Cohen era. To say the deal didn’t work out as well as hoped would be an understatement. He was worth only 0.8 WAR the first two years of his contract, and he spent several months of the 2022 season on the injured list. A different team may have felt inclined to give him another chance out of pride or lack, but the Mets front office had no more patience for mediocrity. They saw an opportunity to improve from behind the plate, and took advantage of it.
Meanwhile, the Orioles seem content to remain below par for at least another year. After a 2022 season in which they finished just three games past a postseason berth, their biggest move so far this winter was to sign. Kyle Gibson to me A one-year, $10 million contract. According to Ken Rosenthal of the athleteBaltimore intended to use McCann as a backup to Adley Rutschman, as well as a designated hitter and potential baseman against left-handed pitching.
Anyone who has ever glanced at McCann’s offensive numbers should be surprised by this statement. He was the first defensive player since his early prospect days to only post one above-average offensive season. Over the past two years, he’s hit . 220 with 73 wRC+. It hits a ton, doesn’t hit a lot of power, and its average stroke is halfway on a good day:
James McCann (2021-2022)
To be fair to the Orioles, McCann fared much better with the platoon advantage, posting a career 110 wRC+ against the South Pawees. He struggled against lefties in his injury-shortened 2022 season, but the previous year, he finished with 108+ rupees against the same-handed pitcher. This isn’t exceptional—the DH averages 114 wRC+ against left-handed throwers over the past five years—but Baltimore will certainly be pleased with this level of output from the new pickup. As a team, the Orioles hit just . 224 with a 90 wRC+ against lefties last season.
McCann has had a major stumble over the past few years, going from a coveted All-Star free agent to a burden for the Mets and backup catcher for Baltimore’s mediocre team. On the bright side, the Orioles will give him a little more margin of error, and he’ll strive to get back to form in 2023. If nothing else, they should have one of the best defensive units in the sport covering home plate for the next two seasons.