A little over a month ago we took a look at three catchers who, at the time, would have made good investments for the Twins in their efforts to get better behind the plate: Baltimore's Matt Wieters, Andrew Susac of San Francisco, and Kevin Plawecki of New York's National League franchise.
With most of the American League still in play for the post-season, Wieters isn't the best bet to be available at this point. Susac (blocked by Buster Posey) and Plawecki (competing with Travis d'Arnaud) however, could still be had for a price. Both players are young and considered top prospects at a premium position and are under control through the rest of the decade, so they wouldn't come cheap. But they're options if Minnesota would be willing to pay the price.
Elsewhere, the market for established, Major League catchers has taken shape. Our friend Mike Berardino named four potential catching targets for the Twins on Monday: Alex Avila, Jonathan Lucroy, Derek Norris, and A.J. Pierzynski. It's not surprising that three of the four are National League players, considering competition for the Wild Card isn't as intense.
|Alex Avila||28||126||81||88||0.3||-3.0||Impending free agent|
|Jonathan Lucroy||29||230||74||73||0.4||2.4||2016: $4MM, 2017: $5.25 MM team option|
|Derek Norris||26||349||90||91||1.4||6.1||2016: Arb 1, 2017: Arb 2, 2018: Arb 3|
|A.J. Pierzynski||38||253||107||105||1.1||-6.6||Impending free agent|
wRC+: Weighted runs created, numbers expressed as a percentage of league average (100)
RAA: Runs above average; aggregate impact of pitch framing skills per Matthew Carruth's StatCorner
Avila is questionable as an upgrade. He hasn't been a league average hitter since 2012 and is less of a starter than he would be a compliment to Kurt Suzuki. Guys like Avila are preferable options to someone like Eric Fryer or Chris Herrmann. Improving the bench is a good thing, even if that means Suzuki goes from a starter's role to backup, but I'm doubtful whether Avila would help the Twins win more games.
The other short-term option on the list is Pierzynski, who Atlanta is apparently willing to trade even though their own catching system isn't entirely stable behind him. He might come cheaper than Avila simply because of age. Pierzynski has had a nice season at the plate, a far cry from performance that led the Red Sox to release him just months into a two-year contract last summer, so there's fair expectation there that he'd make Minnesota better just by being in the lineup.
Lucroy and Norris are each controlled beyond this season. Neither of them are having good years at the dish (Norris hit .260/.354/.405 his last two years in Oakland; Lucroy hit .297/.359/.472 the last three years), but their track records and apparent skills behind the plate blend with the team control to make them exceptionally valuable. Lucroy in particular has a reputation around the league as one of the better two-way options, which means acquiring him would take more than most Twins fans would be comfortable with.
Based on the conversations we've had around here not to mention on Twitter and other forums, Lucroy seems to be the fan favorite. It's hard to blame anyone for aiming high, especially when Lucroy's BABIP indicate he could bounce back as the season goes along. It's public knowledge that the Brewers are looking for young, team controlled pitching, and Minnesota can deliver. If the Twins were to center a package around Kyle Gibson and Eddie Rosario, it might be enough to get the ball rolling - although I have no doubt that it would take more than that to consummate the deal.
Will the Twins acquire a catcher before the non-waiver trade deadline expires in nine days? Let us know what you think.