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MLB Trade Deadline Top 10: Catchers

Despite the shortage of good catchers around the game, there are a surprising number of decent receivers available at the trade deadline.

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Everyone talks about the shortage of good catchers in Major League Baseball today, and it’s easy to see why. Catchers, on the whole, have a .697 OPS in the Majors this year, lowest of all the positions. The next position on the list, shortstop, has a .732 OPS.

Of course, there are barriers that prevent catchers from being more of an offensive force. There’s the natural wear and tear on a backstop, of course. And in a related problem, starting catchers have to take more days off, meaning inferior players wind up grabbing more playing time that at any position.

That’s why it’s imperative for competitive teams to have a couple of good receivers they can count on, so that the club doesn’t take too big of a hit 2-3 days per week.

So it’s a little surprising to see that there actually are plenty of respectable catchers who should be available at the trade deadline. Here are the top 10, ranked by trade value:

Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

Lucroy is, far and away, the most valuable player on the market this offseason. He’s an elite player both at the plate and in the field, and is signed for a ludicrously affordable deal through the end of next year. He would be an upgrade for every single contender out there, with the exception of the Giants.

Prediction: Red Sox

Other contenders: Rangers, Astros, Indians, Dodgers

Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics

Vogt has another three years of team control, so the A’s may choose to hold onto him for now. But he’s already 31, and while he doesn’t have the same number of miles on his odometer that other catchers do, the A’s might want to preempt his natural decline. Vogt is not an asset on defense, but nor is he a liability, and he has a reliably above average bat.

Prediction: Astros

Other contenders: Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Rangers

Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins

No one has been as frustratingly inconsistent as Kurt Suzuki. He’s either an average offensive player or an abysmal one, with nothing in between. Right now, he’s on fire at the plate, hitting .341/.374/.530 over the last two months. Suzuki has trouble with balls in the dirt, throwing out base stealers, and with pitch framing, so…not the best defender out there. But given that it’s an exceptionally short and reasonable commitment, he will make a great rental.

Prediction: Rangers

Other contenders: Indians, Tigers, Red Sox, White Sox

Welington Castillo, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks seem to have officially thrown in the towel on 2016, meaning that they could entertain offers on Castillo, despite having two more years of control on him. He’s a perfectly average hitter and fielder, and would be useful on a number of teams, but there’s no guarantee the D-Backs actually make him available.

Prediction: Stays put

Other contenders: Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Rangers

Tyler Flowers, Atlanta Braves

If you’d told me a month ago that Tyler Flowers would be a desirable target at the trade deadline, I’d have called you a liar. Teams probably have the same skepticism about the former White Sox prospect, but his .769 OPS is pretty shiny, and Baseball Prospectus sees him as an excellent pitch framer. He’s even affordable for the next two years, so he’s kind of like a poor man’s Jonathan Lucroy. But I think that, ultimately, the Braves will keep him around.

Prediction: Stays put.

Other contenders: Tigers, Rangers

Nick Hundley, Colorado Rockies

I still don’t understand how Nick Hundley isn’t related to Todd Hundley, but that’s beside the point. Hundley has hit well as a Rockie the last two years and is a free agent at the end of the year. He’d make a perfectly starter or good backup catcher somewhere, and the Rox have no incentive to keep him.

Prediction: New York Mets

Other contenders: Rangers, Tigers, White Sox, Astros, Indians

Geovany Soto, Los Angeles Angels

We’re getting into the dregs here. Soto has barely played in 2016 after being sidelined with a knee injury, but he’s back now and has hit well in limited duty. He’d make a fine backup.

Prediction: Somewhere

Other contenders: Everybody

Derek Norris, San Diego Padres

Norris has done everything he can to destroy his value over the last couple years with the Padres by just not hitting. He’s gone from a patient hitter to one who won’t take a walk,and he’s striking out more than he did when he was in Oakland. He seems ok defensively, but smart teams probably aren’t going to want to live with a guy going into the expensive years of arbitration who has a .274 OBP.

Prediction: Staying put

Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

If you want some veteran presence as a backup for your stretch run, Ruiz is your guy. The Phillies would surely throw in the money to cover his contract for anybody with even a chance in hell at doing something in the Majors.

Chris Herrmann, Arizona Diamondbacks

No one should trust Chris Herrmann’s hot start, but maybe someone takes a flier that he can keep up his hot hitting, while providing all the flexibility a backup C-OF can give.