Catcher for the Cleveland Guardians
There’s a reasonable chance that the Cleveland Guardians completely wipe the slate clean behind the plate going into the 2022 season. A month ago I would have said that Wilson Ramos was the front-runner to return, but his ACL injury ended those thoughts. As for the rest of the players that have been the backstop in Cleveland, none have played well enough to secure a guaranteed ticket back.
Of the group, Austin Hedges might have the best chance to come back. He’s started to perform a bit better at the plate, having four doubles and three home runs since Aug. 15, but he’s still batting below the Mendoza line over that span. Luckily, there’s a few things that Hedges has going for him.
For starters, he’s been the club’s primary catcher for a good portion of the season, building chemistry with the pitching staff, especially Quantrill and McKenzie. He also has one more year of arbitration remaining on his deal, which should keep his price tag reasonably affordable, maybe even lower than his $3.82 million deal this year due to his dip in production and his time on the injured list.
As for the rest of the roster, who knows. Roberto Perez has been injured for most the season, playing just 34 games. Pair that with his $7 million club option and it seems like his future in Cleveland is doomed. Perhaps he comes back on a cheaper deal from free agency, but even then the starting spot might be up for grabs.
Beyond Perez, Cleveland could explore other free agent options to bridge the gap between now and the future. Both Bo Naylor and Bryan Lavastida or coming up through the minors and should provide an offensive boost at the plate when their time comes, but that’s still a bit down the road.