The Yankees catcher Russell Martin is a free agent this offseason and it doesn’t appear that they are ready to hand the reigns over the Austin Romine yet. So they may have to turn to the free agent market. Here are the best available catchers this offseason.
- Mike Napoli, Age: 31, 2012 Salary: $9.4M, 2012 OPS: .812, Career OPS: .863: Napoli is hitting free agency for the first time in his career so he’ll no doubt be looking for a big multi-year deal. Napoli is certainly the best hitting catcher on the free agent market, but he also might be the worst defensively. The Yankees are not going to want to spend a lot, especially on a multi-year deal and they’ll probably want a better defender as well.
- Brian McCann, Age: 29, 2013 Club Option: $12M, 2012 OPS: .698, Career OPS: .826: McCann has a club option, but shoulder surgery makes that uncertain. Even if they do pick it up there is a chance the Yankees could workout a trade for him. Would they want him? Normally the answer is yes, but McCann probably won’t be ready to start the season and potentially out until May. He’s a good hitting catcher that is normally solid defensively. The Yankees interest in him really depends on how much they trust he’ll recover from surgery. Easily the biggest risk on this list.
- A.J. Pierzynski, Age: 36, 2012 Salary: $6M, 2012 OPS: .827, Career OPS: .753: Another bad defensive catcher that the Yankees will likely stay away from, but one that will be quite a bit cheaper than Napoli. He is coming off a very good offensive year where he hit for more power that he ever has. It’s hard to see him repeating this season’s numbers though and his age could also scare the Yankees off.
David Ross(signed with Boston Red Sox), Age: 36, 2012 Salary: $1.625M, 2012 OPS: .770, Career OPS: .769: Ross is probably the most intriguing name on this list to me. He’s never been a starting catcher, but over the past four years he has consistently hit above league average and is a very good defender. It’s possible that given a full time opportunity that he could have a good year and he would come very cheap as well. If the Yankees want to begin to work Romine into the major league roster it may be best to pair him with Ross. It’ll also save them quite a bit of money compared to Martin.
- Kelly Shoppach, Age: 32, 2012 Salary: $3.2M, 2012 OPS: .733, Career OPS: .732: If the Yankees fail to re-sign Martin and miss out on the names above, Shoppach is really their last chance outside of the trade market. Basically what the Yankees got from Martin offensively this season is what Shoppach provides with probably slightly less power. He’s got a solid defensive reputation, but is probably not quite as good as Martin there. You could do worse, but nobody in New York is going to get excited if the Yankees sign Shoppach.
THOUGHTS: I don’t know about you, but this list makes me think that the Yankees will re-sign Martin this offseason or finding a catcher in a trade. Going after McCann would be interesting, but the Yankees went through the entire catcher coming off shoulder surgery thing with Jorge Posada and it didn’t exactly go well. If Martin is really looking for more than the Yankees are willing to spend than Ross is probably the direction they should go. I’m just not sure he would hold up over 120 games or so.