The Cleveland Guardians continue to not get much offense from their catchers – could they target one at the trade deadline?
With starting catcher Austin Hedges on the 7-day IL with a concussion, the Cleveland Guardians traded for a familiar face in Sandy León this week.
But that’s not a move that will inspire much confidence in the offensive capabilities of the position, which remains a giant sore spot in the Guardians’ lineup. Before going on the IL, Hedges was hitting just .160 in 144 at-bats, while backup catcher Luke Maile is batting .188 and has significantly cooled down after a solid start to his year.
León, 33, was with Cleveland in 2020 and didn’t fare much better than most catchers in recent team history, hitting .136 in 66 at-bats.
So as the Guardians remain in contention this year, they could certainly stand to upgrade at catcher, at least from an offensive standpoint. Lucky for them, there are a few potential names out there that could really help solidify the bottom of the lineup.
Who could the Guardians target at catcher at the trade deadline?
Willson Contreras – Chicago Cubs
The 30-year-old Contreras will almost certainly be dealt by the Cubs this year, as the soon-to-be free agent is having the best season of his career, hitting .272/.387/.494 with 12 home runs, 32 RBIs, 14 doubles and an OPS+ of 146. Despite the solid stats, the Guardians might be less inclined to trade for Contreras because he’ll likely be gone after 2022.
Sean Murphy – Oakland Athletics
Murphy, 27, is a great defensive catcher with plenty of pop – he had 23 doubles and 17 home runs in 393 at-bats in 2021 and could surpass that this season. He’d be a decent fit in Cleveland, even if his average (.216) and on-base percentage (.292) leave something to be desired. Still, he won’t be a free agent until 2026 and would likely be a serviceable option until a younger player like Bo Naylor eventually ascends to the majors.
Alejandro Kirk – Toronto Blue Jays
With the way Kirk has been hitting recently, trading for him has turned into something of a pipe dream. The 23-year-old has become an All-Star in 2022, hitting .325/.414/.527 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles, 31 RBIs and a 166 OPS+ to go along with an elite eye at the plate. There had been rumors floating around that he could be available in trade talks to ease Toronto’s logjam at the position, but it seems that possibility could be long gone.
Beyond the three options above, there aren’t too many other catchers out there who will make you sit up in your chair and get excited. The Guardians might just be more inclined to ride out the season with Hedges and Maile without having to spend too much prospect capital on a player they aren’t over the moon about.
It’s unclear at the moment whether the Guardians would be looking to acquire either a stopgap option or a long-term fit at the position as they eventually look to the minors for a future stalwart behind the plate. With Naylor already in Triple-A Columbus along with Bryan Lavastida, Cleveland will soon have more internal options behind the plate. But if a guy like Kirk somehow became available… well, those future plans might go right out the window.