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Twins Likely To Explore Catching Market This Offseason


Although the Twins’ high precedence in the meanwhile is probably going ascertaining whether or not they have an actual likelihood to increase Carlos Correa earlier than he formally triggers his opt-out clause, they’ll head into the winter with a prolonged listing of wants. Among the many priorities will probably be in search of some assist behind the plate. President of baseball ops Derek Falvey lately spoke of the “co-catcher” mannequin — that’s, two catchers splitting time extra evenly slightly than a standard starter/backup committee (hyperlink through Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic). He implied that there’s “a possibility to match up” right-handed-hitting Ryan Jeffers with a companion who can present some extra offense in opposition to right-handed pitching.

Falvey notably emphasised that Jeffers isn’t considered as a strict platoon candidate, however there’s little denying that the 25-year-old has been vastly extra productive in platoon matchups up to now in his profession. Jeffers hit .306/.377/.532 in a small pattern of 70 plate appearances in opposition to southpaws this season and carries a profession .263/.344/.450 output in opposition to left-handers. Comparatively, he’s batted simply .185/.256/.361 in opposition to right-handers. From a pure energy standpoint, Jeffers’ .187 ISO in opposition to lefties and .176 mark versus righties are comparable, however Jeffers strikes out extra usually and walks much less in opposition to same-handed opponents. He additionally makes far much less laborious contact in opposition to righties and pops up almost 4 instances as usually in these matchups as he does in opposition to lefties.

Whereas the pure offensive splits do converse to a possible platoon state of affairs being advantageous, it’s additionally value stating that Jeffers remains to be younger and any such numbers are coming in a small pattern. Although he’s been a distinguished issue within the Twins’ catching combine since late within the 2020 season, accidents have restricted his availability. Most lately, spent greater than two months on the injured listing this season resulting from a fractured thumb. Contemplating that Jeffers hit .276/.362/.427 in opposition to righties in his last full minor league season (2019), the Twins might not need to fully lower off his avenue to at-bats in opposition to right-handed pitching; there’s nonetheless time for him to enhance in that regard.

Past that, limiting Jeffers to a platoon setup inherently subtracts as high quality defensive participant from the lineup. True, Jeffers’ 19% caught-stealing charge is 5 proportion factors under the league common throughout his three years within the Majors, however he commonly grades out as a powerful framer and has lengthy drawn reward for his receiving expertise on the entire. In a few season’s value of innings over the previous two years, he’s been credited for eight Defensive Runs Saved.

Nonetheless, there’s some apparent trigger so as to add not simply catching possibility who can present some clout in opposition to right-handed opponents, however one who can shoulder the workload within the occasion of any further absences from Jeffers. This yr’s damage was fluky in nature, however the Twins’ system is mostly skinny on catching prospects in the meanwhile, so including a veteran who can step up and take a much bigger function, if wanted, makes good sense.

Sadly, amongst this yr’s group of free-agent catchers, the choices in that regard are pretty restricted. Definitely, the market’s high catcher, Willson Contreras, would supply some further thump in opposition to right- and left-handed pitching alike (and produce greater than sufficient bat to sometimes combine in at DH), however the competitors for him figures to be robust. Some lefty-swinging backstops can be found within the type of Omar Narvaez and switch-hitting Tucker Barnhart, however neither did a lot in opposition to righties or lefties in 2022. Each are coming off down seasons, although Narvaez specifically does carry a profession .268/.345/.406 line in opposition to right-handers. The commerce market will current all the pieces from top-tier regularsi (Oakland’s Sean Murphy) to out-of-options rolls of the cube (the Angels’ Matt Thaiss).

The quintet of Jeffers, Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Caleb Hamilton and Jose Godoy mixed for a .197/.275/.355 batting line whereas catching in 2022, equating to an 81 wRC+ that ranked seventeenth within the Majors. Twins catchers have been removed from the game’s least-productive unit, however that’s as a lot an indictment on the present manufacturing (or lack thereof) from catchers all through the league as a testomony to the Twins’ catching corps. Whichever route Falvey and his workers take, some type of complement to Jeffers feels inevitable. And, with solely about $52.5MM on subsequent yr’s payroll (when factoring in Correa’s opt-out and the possible exercising of Sonny Grey’s membership possibility), there’s loads of room for upgrades up and down the roster.


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