Cleveland Guardians Free Agent Target #3: Mike Zunino, TB
The offensive output from Cleveland’s catchers has been nothing short of horrendous. Roberto Perez could very well be let go and declined his club option for the 2022 and Austin Hedges isn’t too far away himself. Bo Naylor and Bryan Lavastida are making progress in the minors, but they won’t be ready in time. Cleveland needs a fix behind the plate now.
Like Perez, Mike Zunino has a club option for $7 million next year which is very reasonable for an All-Star catcher, but there’s other variables that play into the decision. The Rays are known to cut ties with talent that’s “overpriced” and with Francisco Mejia showing improvement, perhaps Tampa Bay thinks it’s time to move on.
Should that be the case, the Cleveland Guardians need to do whatever is needed to sign Zunino. His average at the plate hasn’t been great, but it’s been better than what Cleveland has had. The biggest plus is his power, blasting 33 home runs in 2021.
Zunino might not be the defensive catcher that Perez or Hedges is, having five errors in 2021 on top of a .995 career fielding percentage. However, a slight sacrifice behind the plate might be worth an upgrade at the plate and Zunino would do just that.