Buster Posey has a lot of gas left in the tank. Don’t let any reports convince you otherwise.
The San Francisco Giants catcher may be on the downswing of his career, but he’s still a quality baseball player, a franchise icon, and owed more than $40 million over the next two seasons.
His health status may be in question, and his All-Star status may be in question, but his Giants status is not. He’s the starting catcher.
After that? That’s where the question marks pop up.
It’s increasingly looking like the MLB season will start sometime this summer, despite the coronavirus pandemic. And when it does, the Giants will need a backup catcher. Who will it be?
Let’s meet the contenders:
Arguably the top prospect in the organization, Bart had the best Spring Training of any Giants catcher. Extremely small sample size applies, but Bart went 7-16 with 1 double, 2 home runs, and 3 walks to 5 strikeouts. He looked dynamic.
He was re-assigned to the minors shortly before the season was suspended, but not because he’s not MLB ready. Rather, Farhan Zaidi noted that the Giants would like him to get regular at-bats for a while, which he can do at the minors when he isn’t stuck behind Posey.
But now things have changed in a million ways. There may not even be a minor league season, which means a spot on the MLB roster may actually be the best choice for Bart’s development. A universal designated hitter — a near certainty for 2020 — means the Giants can play Bart more without it cutting into Posey’s playing time, and vice versa.
And an 82-game season with an expanded playoff field means the Giants will legitimately enter the season as contenders, thus increasing the desire to put the best team forward.
The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly dug deeper into why the Giants should consider Bart for the opening day roster, and the case is compelling. Very compelling.
In the hypothetical season that I’ve been making up, Heineman made the roster. He’s been playing okay. Good for him.
He did not have a good Spring Training, as he hit just 2-16, with no extra-base hits. But he drew 4 walks and struck out just once in 22 plate appearances. If you’re looking for tiny sample size intrigue, there’s a sliver.
His bat played very well last year in AAA, where he was a notably above-average hitter (143 wRC+ in 182 plate appearances with the Marlins, 129 wRC+ in 91 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks). And he’s just 28. He could be an intriguing player.
Remember last year, when Erik Kratz started the year as the backup catcher, and held down the fort with replacement level value until a more exciting option came around?
That’s Brantly, who has a career wRC+ of 72 over five MLB seasons of sporadic play. He’s a safe, unexciting option, who hit 5-20 in the spring, with 1 double, 0 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
An outside option
I’m not sure that Zaidi’s love of micro moves will be as on display this year when baseball returns. With less baseball across all levels, it maybe doesn’t make as much sense to sign or trade for every fringe player and see what can happen.
Still, he has a propensity for acquiring backup catchers, and there’s a decent chance he does so again in June.
There’s a good chance the Giants will have more than one backup catcher. The latest proposal sees teams having a 30-player roster, with a taxi squad that would allow for more than 50 total players to see the field. So the Giants will see at least three players catch pitches this season.
The question is, which catcher will get the most plate appearances after Buster Posey?
The answer is “I don’t know,” so I’m turning it over to all of you.
Which backup catcher will get the most PAs?
This poll is closed