Markus Potter sent me a question asking for options at catcher through the remainder of the season, being as he had Jorge Posada and needs a replacement.
Here is the question posed to the roundtable this week:
|With Jorge Posada looking like he is out for the season (and now out for the season at the time of this posting), and folks like heavily hyped Victor Martinez and J.R. Towles not playing anywhere near expectations, who are the best catcher options likely available in the fantasy free agent market right now?|
According to ESPN's Player Rater there are 17 catchers that have amassed positive value so far this season. Of those, many may be available in your league. League size is a huge variable when determining which catchers could be free agents so I will use the FBS Experts League to determine available free agent catchers. The settings in this league are 12 teams/1 active C.
Kurt Suzuki - The #10 C according to ESPN. Suzuki offers a decent batting average and if he can remain near the top of the A's batting order should provide solid run production. He has limited power potential but may get a handful of SBs before the season is over.
Gerald Laird - Laird is #14 on ESPN's list and has returned this week after missing a month with hamstring issues. Lost among the hype surrounding Salty and recent call ups Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden, Laird has been the most productive of the Rangers catchers. He would be my #1 choice if available to those looking for a Posada replacement. A solid average and some RBI & HR production is what can be expected from Laird
Jesus Flores - Flores has seized the starting catching gig in Washington and has quietly put up good numbers. A .275/19R/6HR/42RBI line makes him solid in 3 categories. He has some upside and could be available in many leagues, probably more available than the Suzuki & Laird.
Chris Snyder - If batting average can be ignored, then Snyder makes a decent pickup due to his power numbers.
Matt Wieters - Big time prospect who could be a Top 10 catcher next season. There is an outside shot that he reaches the majors this year. He is tearing up AA after tearing up High Class A. If he is called up and guaranteed the majority of playing time he is a must add.
The other catchers that have had positive value this season according to the player rater and could be available in some leagues are: Yadier Molina & Dioner Navarro(empty batting average), John Buck (big power potential, no batting average). Chris Iannetta should be owned in almost every league.
Andrew Cleary, fantasybaseballgenerals.com
This has indeed been a trying year for finding catchers in fantasy baseball (also, good luck finding a decent replacement shortstop when your regular goes down), leading some of us to even consider adding the ancient Gregg Zaun in moments of desperation. It's hard to be sure which catchers will likely be free agents, since there are many leagues opting for either one or two-catcher rosters, but let's take a stab at finding some from the lower end of the depth chart.
For my part, I'll say that either of Chris Coste or Carlos Ruiz,
Philadelphia's dueling catchers, looks like a viable choice for a
manager looking to scrounge production out of the free agent list. They are battling each other for at-bats, but either has potential to perform well when they start through the rest of the season. Coste has shown more power this year, with a .196 ISO and .312 BABIP in his 200 or so plate appearances, enough to produce 7 HR, 25 RBI, and a .285 average.
Ruiz, meanwhile, has a weak .209 average with 2 HR, 21 RBI, and a
sub-.100 ISO. However, Ruiz has suffered from a .235 BABIP, which is lower than what you would expect from a player with a 86% contact rate and 15.6% line drive rate.
Ruiz is the younger option, and looks to have the better upside for the rest of this year and beyond. But Coste's power is no mirage, as he has the peripherals to support his BABIP rate. Either looks to be worth taking a chance on if you need to find a catcher.
Jason Collette, rotojunkie.com
Catching is such a lousy position to begin with and all the injuries and disappointments this season have made it even worse. One guy I'd look to grab if he was floating out there is Brandon Inge. He qualifies at a few positions and Ivan Rodriguez is in a few trade rumors at press time. Inge has been hot in July hitting .281/.343/541 in 32 at bats. Strikeouts have always been a problem for him, but this month he's only striking out 19% of the time which is a noticeable improvement for him.
Brett Greenfield, fantasyphenoms.com
Jesus Flores is batting .278 with 6 homers and 42 RBI in about 200 AB's. Jimmy Rollins has 36 RBI in 333 AB's. Not a bad find on the waiver wire if you need catching help.
Rudy Gamble, razzball.com
The only catchers who MUST be owned at this point are McCann, Mauer, Martin, Soto, and Doumit. The next guys I'd grab are AJ Pierzynski, Ramon Hernandez, and Bengie Molina. Assuming they are gone, I'd look at Chris Snyder (on the upswing), Chris Ianetta (decent power), Randy Flores. Last resorts would include Kurt Suzuki (been hitting well over the month - hits near top of lineup), Ivan Rodriguez, and Salty (never know in Texas...).
Zach Piso, mlbfrontoffice.com
There are a couple catchers that are catching my eye right now on the free agent market, though with Geovany Soto sitting squarely on all of my squads I've been fortunate thus far. I would say that Kurt Suzuki (23% owned) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2% owned) are both high upside guys, with Mike Napoli (10%) having some upside but coming off an extensive injury rehab process. Salty was extremely overrated heading into the season, but I think Laird might get traded in the next day or too--and if he does, the young backstop should have a lot more value. Another guy, whose name might sound familiar, is J.R. Towles. His abysmal average derived from a .160 BABIP, although his line drive % collapsed this season. He hasn't been terrible in Triple A, and in very deep leagues might provide some value at least when expanded rosters come around.
And as I was finishing up my list, the Yankees finished up a deal for Pudge Rodriguez. While the veteran should see a small boost in his value, Brandon Inge is the real fantasy winner, and could put up ten homers from behind the plate with his rare pair of fresh legs post midseason.
Rob Reed, baseballgeeks.com
I'm going to look at a few names that have high contact rates and low BABIPs as of 7/18. Josh Bard (.232 BABIP, 86% CR), J.R. Towles (big gamble being as he is in the minors and has had multiple stints... 75% CR, .162 BABIP), Gregg Zaun (86% CR), John Buck (77% CR), Kurt Suzuki (85% CR), Yorvit Torrealba (84% CR, .270 BABIP). Jason Kendall's 91% contract rate is something to admire, so if he happens to be on the wires, he's a fair option. If you can trade for Kenji Johjima from a disgruntled owner, I might look there, too (91% contact with a .221 BABIP means he has been one unlucky hitter). Yadier Molina had a 94% contact rate through 7/18.
Middle of the Road: Jeff Clement... low CR of 64%, but only a .200 BABIP could mean improvement in 4/5 categories.
Guys I would avoid based on the same CR/BABIP concept: Kelly Shoppach (notwithstanding the 2 HR day yesterday, 64% CR, .340 BABIP), Jarrod Saltamacchia (63%, .326).