Why did the Cleveland Guardians not upgrade the catcher position at the deadline?
One of the most consistent talks throughout the last few weeks by people inside and outside of the Guardians organization was the need to find their next star catcher.
Whether it was Willson Contreras or Sean Murphy, Guardians fans were content with either.
Well, at 6 p.m. on August 2nd, neither ended up on the Guardians, and both remained with their respective organizations.
With disappointment stemming from the city of Cleveland, the question remains on what the plan is behind the plate, and why Cleveland did not make a move at the deadline.
Why did Cleveland not make a move for a catcher at the trade deadline?
The Cleveland Guardians were rumored a lot throughout the 2022 MLB trade deadline to be interested in acquiring a catcher, most notably Sean Murphy from the Oakland A’s.
While it was rumored and speculated by fans and media sites that the Guardians were a good fit for Willson Contreras (over with the Cubs), those fizzled out as official reporters indicated Cleveland’s interest in Murphy.
According to Zack Meisel of The Athletic, the Guardians threw out several different trade offers and packages to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Murphy, but none of those trades gained much traction.
Meisel wrote that Oakland’s reason for holding on to Murphy at the deadline was that “[Oakland] can just hang on to Murphy, who is under team control for another three-and-a-half years, until the offseason and deal him in a more populated market.”
To Cleveland fans’ delight, this report showcases that the Guardians in fact were trying to make a sizable upgrade to the catching position, but simply could not pry Murphy away from the A’s.
With the trade deadline now over, they will have to wait until the offseason to try again to make a splash at catcher if they so desire.
What is the Guardians’ plan behind the plate going forward then?
Austin Hedges will most likely retain his role as the starting catcher for the Cleveland Guardians for the foreseeable future.
Luke Maile will also probably maintain his backup position behind Hedges while he continues to get reps. However, when looking at prospect Bo Naylor, the opportunity for some changes within the organization may arise.
Naylor is playing stellar throughout his time in Triple-A and has batted an impressive .295, which is the highest of his career. Through 95 at-bats he’s recorded 28 hits, six doubles, two triples, five home runs, and 20 RBIs. He’s also slashing .295/.424/.558 with a 27% strikeout rate at the plate.
On the defensive side, he’s made some impressive plays throughout the season, including one just this week where he threw out a runner stealing second with a laser beam of a throw.
Hedges may be an incredible defender, but his offense holds him back. With a young prospect like Naylor who can do both, the only worry will be if his minor-league play can translate to the majors.
The Cleveland Guardians front office has shown that they are willing to put struggling established players aside to give younger prospects opportunities, most recently shown with DH and outfielder Franmil Reyes, which shows that if Hedges continues to struggle, Naylor may get his opportunity.
With dominating defensive plays, and impressive hitting from the young 22-year-old, he may get his shot in the majors in due time.