clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rene Pinto and the Rays needs at catcher

And how will they approach the catcher need on the roster?

Seattle Mariners v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

On the 40-man roster, there is Rene Pinto and only Rene Pinto as the team’s sole catcher on the roster, which means the Rays are likely in the market for a catcher at the Winter Meetings.

How did we get here?

Pinto just turned 27 in November and has a total of 64 games at the Major League level under his belt, which were enough for him to push Christian Bethancourt out of the starting backstop position once the playoffs began.

Over those 64 games Pinto has hit .235/.255/.399 with 8 HR. He has been prone to strikeouts (32%) and allergic to walks (2%) while flashing occasional power (.204 ISO in 2023) over a small sample size that’s probably more telling than small sample sizes usually would be. He made 105 trips to the plate in 2023 and finished as a league average hitter (98 wRC+).

Defensively, Pinto is subpar as a blocker (six runs below average per Savant in, again, a small sample size), but elite when it comes to pop times (1.87s per Baseball Savant, second in the baseball):

His framing graded as slightly above average in limited playing time, and might be good — the scouting reports on it from his time in the minors were mixed.

Pinto could prove to be a solid everyday catcher but is more likely viewed internally as an excellent backup catcher.

Elsewhere in the Rays system, Alex Jackson is the likely next man up behind Pinto, and might have been on the Rays roster last season had he not injured his shoulder shortly after being acquired. The Rays acquired him at the trade deadline with high expectations that have followed him since he was drafted 6th overall in 2014 by the Mariners.

Jackson was outrighted off the roster, and has reportedly been re-signed to a minor league deal that will be official later this off-season. He has intriguing power, but is a 27 year old with only 185 major league plate appearances rebounding from a shoulder injury.

Beyond Jackson there no prospects throughout the system that rank on a team top prospects list. In other words, the Rays catching corps is more depleted than the right field stands during an Isaac Paredes BP session.

Now, there are plenty of catchers out there in the free agent market, headlined by Victor Caratini (1.1 WAR in 2023 for MIL), World Series winner Austin Hedges (0.8 WAR, TEX), and Tom Murphy (0.8 WAR, SEA). As no other free agent catchers accumulated more than 0.2 WAR last season, it’s an open question as to whether any of these names align with the Rays priorities (i.e. could be a lead backstop), especially with so many of the team’s players already rumored to be in trade discussions.

What do you expect the Rays to do at catcher?

Free Agent Catchers

  • Jorge Alfaro (31)
  • Tucker Barnhart (33)
  • Victor Caratini (30)
  • Curt Casali (35)
  • Mitch Garver (33)
  • Yasmani Grandal (35)*
  • Eric Haase (31)
  • Austin Hedges (31)
  • Andrew Knizner (29)
  • Martin Maldonado (37)
  • Tom Murphy (33)
  • Austin Nola (34)
  • Carlos Perez (33)
  • Manny Piña (37)
  • Gary Sanchez (31)
  • Jacob Stallings (34)
  • Chad Wallach (32)
  • Austin Wynns (33)
  • Mike Zunino (33)