Back in October, jcmitchell took a look at available catching targets here. However, over four months have passed and numerous moves have occurred. With the catcher's spot as the primary weakness in the Ray's lineup, it is time to once again scan the market (the trade market this time) and analyze some potentially available catchers.
However, it seem unlikely that the Rays will make a trade for a catcher at this point. While Davis and Niemann are still trade-able and available assets for the Rays to use to acquire a catcher, the Rays signed Jose Molina and have Lobaton and Chirinos waiting in the wings. Sure, none of those players are exciting or enticing options. Despite this, the Rays probably want to discern if they have a keeper between Lobaton and Chirinos. With this in mind, a trade seems highly improbable, particularly considering the dull market, which is right after the jump.....
1. Nick Hundley (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3376&position=C)
Team: San Diego Padres.
Contract: 3 years of control (arbitration) remaining. Projected cost of 2 million (2011), 4.8 million, and 6.5 million.
Net Value: 20.45 million.
1. Hundley is one of the better catchers that may be available. His defense and his bat are both around average, which is an upgrade from the 2011's Rays' numbers at the catching position.
2. Hundley is affordable for a team such as the Rays, only making an average of 4.3 million per year.
1. The Padres should not be especially motivated to move someone like Hundley. They don't have an obvious replacement for him, and while they added Grandal, a top catching prospect, he is around a year away from making an impact. This should raise Hundley's cost by a bit, giving more leverage to the Padres.
2. Hundley is coming off his best campaign yet, a campaign which looks very fluky. He hit for a 132 wRC+, but that was fueled by an unsustainable .362 BABIP. The Rays tend to buy low on players, so this would contradict their typical tendencies.
Conversation Starter: Nick Hundley for Wade Davis
2. Kurt Suzuki (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=8259&position=C)
Team: Oakland Athletics.
Contract: Signed extension on 7/23/10. Cost of 5 million in 2012, 6.45 million in 2013, and a 2014 option worth 8.5 million with a .65 million buyout. 2014 option becomes guaranteed at 9.25 million if Suzuki makes 113 starts in 2013.
Net Value (assuming the option becomes guaranteed): 14.4 million.
1. Suzuki is coming off two straight years in which he suffered from poor luck (.245 and .244 BABIPs respectively). Since his K%, BB%, and ISO were all maintained and only his BABIP fluctuated, it is safe to assume that his luck should turn around. Because of the two past sub-par years, the perception is that his value is low, making him a typical Ray's target.
2. Any catcher that has a league average bat and solid defense is a valuable player. Another positive aspect about Suzuki is his health; he has managed to remain healthy, averaging 140 games over the past four years. From 2008-2011 he has averaged 2.5 WAR, ranking 8th in MLB in that category.
1. While Suzuki is a solid player, his contract is a bit hefty. And although his performance dictates a higher amount of money than his payment under the contract, it isn't necessarily cheap for a team such as the Rays. Should Suzuki collapse, the money would still be guaranteed, which is another deterring outlook for the Rays.
Conversation Starter: Tyler Bortnick and Parker Markel for Kurt Suzuki.
3. Geovany Soto (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3707&position=C)
Team: Chicago Cubs
Contract: 2 years of control (arbitration) remaining. He will make 4.3 million in 2012 and a projected 5.7 million in 2013.
Net Value: 11.6 million.
1. If there is any truth in career trends, Soto is due for a nice year. Soto was worth 3.7 WAR in 2008, 1.2 in 2009, 3.1 in 2010, and 2.1 in 2011.....It doesn't get more up and down than that.
2. Like Suzuki, Soto is coming off of a poor year, which should lower his value and make him a Ray's target.
3. While Soto certainly isn't cheap, his price is not beyond the Rays' financial constraints.
1. There is a common perception that a club's new GM, such as Epstein, is initially reluctant to trade away players. In addition to this, Epstein would presumably desire prospects in a trade for Soto, something the Rays have been reluctant to give up.
2. While Soto was good in 2008 and 2010, his 2009 and and 2011 were both poor years. If he should have production similar to those numbers, you would have to wonder if it is even an upgrade over the Ray's current tandem.
Conversation Starter: Alex Torres, Nick Barnese, and Todd Glaesman for Geovany Soto.
4. Ryan Hanigan (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4952&position=C)
Team: Cincinnatti Reds
Contract (assuming a starter's position): Signed a 3 year extension on 3/13/11. He will be payed 1.2 million in 2012 and 2.05 million in 2013. He is also arbitration eligible in 2014 for a projected amount of 5 million.
Net Value: 25.5 million
1. Hanigan is a very solid player. I projected him to be worth a conservative 2.5 WAR per year if he gets 475 PAs each year.
2. Hanigan is extremely affordable, which is critical for the Rays.
1. Why would the Red's want to trade Hanigan? Sure, they do have Meseraco, the top catching prospect in baseball, but that doesn't mean that they should trade away a valuable asset. At this point, it appears that Hanigan will receive around half of the Red's PAs from the catcher's position.
2. The Reds lost both Yasami Grandal and Ramon Hernandez this past off season, both of whom are catchers. What organization will give up three quality catchers in one off-season?
3. The Rays would almost surely have to overpay in a trade.
Conversation Starter: Wade Davis and Kyeong Kang for Ryan Hanigan.
That does it folks! As previously stated, the options are not very enticing and the chances of a trade seem minimal, though it never hurts to imagine or dream!