Nationals Baseball: Off-Season Position Discussion : Catcher

Monday, November 09, 2020

Off-Season Position Discussion : Catcher

Last year discussion

By the time I got around to doing catcher last year, Gomes had been released and re-signed to break his contract and get him at a lower cost.  Anything in a 60 game season is going to be suspect but he was decent and Suzuki had an average year. Both were healthy all year too so no one else had to play the position. So catcher, for once, wasn't an issue at all.

Presumed Plan : Gomes and a back-up, unless.... they sign Realmuto.  I think they will give that a decent run.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : Suzuki might have another year in him but at 37 and with a championship in hand, I'm not sure there's a point to have him here, even at one year.  Gomes was perfectly decent, has a deal for 2021, and was always the idea of a long-term (read 3-4 year) solution when he was brought here.Year one didn't work out but year two did so stick to the plan.  As for the back up, it'll probably be Raudy Read, a guy they liked a couple years ago but has mostly fallen off track. He'll have next year to show something while guys like Tres Barrera and Israel Pineda develop and hopefully one becomes a solid choice to start getting playing time in 2022.

JT Realmuto is really good and if you want the best long term solution he's the choice.  There's certainly an argument not to waste cheap Juan Soto years not trying 

Problems with Presumed Plan  : Gomes has gone from great to terrible to good to bad to good again. There isn't a strong reason to buy that he'll be good next year and there's a better chance he'll be terrible than very good. Raudy Read also should be pretty bad so the chances of a terrible Nats catcher situation is pretty decent. Any time you are waiting for minor leaguers that aren't the top prospects (and neither of these catcher guys are) you are probably waiting for nothing.

If you want Realmuto... that's going to cost you.  Catchers are hard to find and not EVERY team is tanking.  If you expect anyone to get money this offseason it's JT. 

My take

How strong the Nats are on Realmuto will show you right away how they are looking at next year.  Are they waiting out what might be a shortened season or otherwise atypical year looking to go back big in 2022 or even later? Or are they going to try to keep winning every year? That was the plan in 2020 and that didn't work and while it was a shortened year it makes you wonder if it makes more sense to sit a year, shake off some more contracts, and come back strong. 

I think it's worthwhile to use 2021 as an evaluation year.  It's rare that as a team you have leeway with fans to do so, but a championship and a pandemic year will give you that.  You are going to be "post-Max" soon (probably) and have a lot of potential holes to fill, - 1B, 3B, OF, RP, SP, maybe 2B if they get unlucky, probably C, so being able to take a year to see exactly what you have before planning the next run is a good idea. 

That being said - if you want to have a next run soon and don't like your catchers - and since I noted "probably C' as being a hole you can tell I don't like their catchers - Realmuto makes a lot of sense. And for the Nats I think it makes too much sense to pass up (as well as keeping him from the Phillies and Mets) 

I don't think the Nats will actually do this. I think their focus will be on signing/trading for the pitcher that starts now and covers the post-Max years, especially given Strasburg's arm issues. But i want to maximize my success when I can build around Soto both in the "best hitter in baseball" sense and in the "way underpaid" sense. The Nats got about 3 years of that (his last years of arb are going to either be very expensive or hopefully bought out in a long term deal). Make it happen.



Cautiously Pessimistic said...

If the Nats are going to sign a catcher this offseason, I honestly would prefer McCann over Realmuto. This FA class is slim to say the least and Realmuto is arguably the gem. He's going to be paid handsomely, and I don't want the Nats dumping a ton of money into a single player at an injury-prone position. McCann is only a year older, has shown himself to be a solid C if not one of THE best, and is going to cost a lot less in money/years.

Or, if you want a reunion, bring back the Buffalo. He'll be cheaper too and was always a fan favorite

Harper said...

McCann is interesting in that someone is going to try to snap him up for relative cheap before Realmuto signs - trying to beat the market by taking a gamble (he basically just had one full season of good hitting). I'm fine with Ramos on the cheap but why? He's not a particularly good catcher and whoever you sign cheap is probably going to back-up Gomes not platoon. Seems to me he's more a in-season trade target if you need him.

billyhacker said...

Nats real goal with Realmuto has to be a, what do they call it, "pacing horse?" Nats need to make sure Realmuto signs with the Mets at full price to start moving Mets toward the upper luxury tax levels, just like they hung a weight around the Phillies necks with Harper's contract.