I’ll save the fantasy projections for the Rotoworld Draft Guide, but here are my top catchers for 2012 going by OPS:
.878 – Buster Posey – Giants – 486 AB – .756 in 2011
.868 – Mike Napoli – Rangers – 413 AB – 1.046 in 2011
.867 – Carlos Santana – Indians – 524 AB – .808 in 2011
.855 – Matt Wieters – Orioles – 497 AB – .778 in 2011
.852 – Joe Mauer – Twins – 473 AB – .729 in 2011
.819 – Brian McCann – Braves – 461 AB – .817 in 2011
.816 – Alex Avila – Tigers – 468 AB – .895 in 2011
.799 – Geovany Soto – Cubs – 422 AB – .721 in 2011
.790 – Miguel Montero – Diamondbacks – 473 AB – .820 in 2011
.767 – Ramon Hernandez – Rockies – 338 AB – .788 in 2011
– I have six catchers projected to hit 20 or more homers: Napoli, Santana, Wieters, McCann, Posey and J.P. Arencibia. Arencibia is the lone holdout from the list above; he’s projected for a .290 OBP.
– White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers is another very capable of hitting 20 homers, though it’ll either take an A.J. Pierzynski trade or another Adam Dunn implosion to get him the at-bats. I have him projected to hit .224/.323/.438, giving him a .761 OPS that puts him just below Hernandez here.
– Jesus Montero also misses out, though I’m not sure I would have considered him a catcher for these purposes anyway. I had him projected for an .832 OPS initially, but the trade that sent him from the Yankees to the Mariners pushed him all of the way down to .760.
– As for the bottom of the list, Rod Barajas has the low OPS for anyone projected with at least 300 at-bats (.684). Jose Molina is the low man with 200+ at-bats (.602), and Drew Butera is at the bottom of the 100+ AB guys (.529).
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.