Cleveland Guardians need at least some offense from their catchers
From an offensive standpoint, the Guardians are getting essentially nothing from their catchers – so what should they do?
The Cleveland Guardians currently sport a team wRC+ of 142 – the best in baseball – and many players are off to scorching starts at the plate, but that doesn’t currently include the team’s catchers.
Heading into Sunday’s finale with the San Fransisco Giants, Austin Hedges and rookie Bryan Lavastida are a combined 0-23 with nine strikeouts. Not ideal!
It’s still early, of course, though Hedges has never been known for his offense and Lavastida remains an unknown as a rookie, at least until Luke Maile returns from his injured hamstring. Though Maile won’t be inspiring much confidence from an offensive standpoint, either.
That being said, Hedges isn’t on this team for his offense. He’s exceptional defensively and is one of the very best in the majors when it comes to pitch framing. Still, though, a hit or two would be nice; a black hole even at the bottom of the lineup still presents plenty of issues for the offense. Especially since the emergence of Owen Miller and Josh Naylor’s return from injury have provided some much-needed depth to the lower half of the order.
Last season, Hedges hit just .178/.220/.308 with ten home runs, seven doubles and a 40 wRC+ in 286 at-bats, furthering the recent trend that Cleveland sports the most miserable offensive output from its catchers. Something has to change, and that might first be offering more playing time to Lavastida to not only give Hedges a breather, but to see if he can potentially cross the Mendoza Line.
But if the Guardians wanted to look outside the organization, there are solid trade targets out there, such as the Cubs’ Willson Contreras and Oakland’s Sean Murphy.
Contreras is a free agent after this season, while Murphy would be controllable until 2026. Both would certainly provide far more offense to the catching position, but would it be enough to break up the connection Cleveland’s pitchers have already established with Hedges? It’s a tougher proposition than most assume, though Cleveland nearly pulled off a mid-season trade for Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy in 2016, which he ultimately nixed.
So the Guardians are no strangers to at least thinking about acquiring catching help. Murphy seems like a more distinct possibility if the deal makes sense, but it might not come until the trade deadline, given Cleveland’s patience with Hedges.
A few hits from Hedges or Lavastida, though, would more than suffice in the meantime.