Twins are likely to explore the catching market this off-season

Although the main priority of the twins at the moment is probably to ascertain if they have a real chance to extend Carlos Correa before he formally activates his waiver clause, they will head into winter with a long list of needs. Among the priorities will be the search for some help behind the dish. Baseball operations president Derek Falvey recently talked about the “co-catcher” model, meaning two receivers who split time more evenly rather than a conventional start / reserve committee (link via Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic) . He implied that there is “an opportunity to match” by hitting with his right hand Ryan Jeffers with a partner who can provide some extra offense against right-handed throwing.

Falvey specifically pointed out that Jeffers is not seen as a tough platoon candidate, but there’s no denying the 25-year-old has been much more productive in platoon matches up to this point in his career. Jeffers has hit .306 / .377 / .532 in a small sample of 70 appearances against lefties this season and brings a career of .263 / .344 / .450 against lefties. In comparison, he only hit .185 / .256 / .361 against the right-handers. From a sheer power standpoint, Jeffers’ .187 ISO versus lefties and .176 versus right-handers are comparable, but Jeffers hits more often and walks less against opponents with the same hand. He also makes a much less harsh contact against right-handers and appears almost four times more often in those matches than left-handers.

While pure offensive divisions speak of a potential win-win platoon scenario, it’s also worth pointing out that Jeffers is still young and all of these numbers are coming up in a small sample. Although he has been a leading factor in the Twins’ captivating mix since the end of the 2020 season, injuries have limited his availability. Most recently, he spent more than two months on the injury list this season due to a broken thumb. Considering Jeffers hit .276 / .362 / .427 against righthands in his last full minor league season (2019), the Twins may not want to completely stop his way to bats versus right-handed throwing; there is still time for him to improve in this regard.

On top of that, limiting Jeffers to a platoon setup inherently takes a quality defender out of the lineup. True, Jeffers’ captured theft rate of 19% is five percentage points below the league average during his three years in the Majors, but he regularly ranks as a strong framer and has long earned praise for his skills. reception overall. In about one season of innings in the past two years, he’s been credited for eight Defensive Runs Saved.

However, there is an obvious reason to add not only a capture option that can provide some leverage against right-handed opponents, but one that can carry the workload in the event of further Jeffers absences. This year’s injury was of a fortuitous nature, but the Twins’ system is generally poor at capturing potential customers at the moment, so adding a veteran who can step forward and take a bigger role if needed makes sense.

Unfortunately, in this year’s group of free agent hunters, the options are quite limited. Certainly, the best catcher in the market, Willson Contreras, would provide a few more hits against right and left handed throws alike (and bring more than enough bat to occasionally mix with DH), but the competition for him is strong. Some left swinging backstops are available in the form of Omar Narvaez and flicks of the switch Tucker Barnhart, but neither have done much against right-handed or left-handed in 2022. Both are ending seasons, although Narvaez in particular has a .268 / .345 / .406 career line against right-handed. The commercial market will feature everything from high-end repeat customers (Oakland’s Sean Murphy) to out-of-option dice rolls (the Angels Matt Thaiss).

The Jeffers Quintet, Gary Sanchez, Sandy Leon, Caleb Hamilton And José Godoy combined for a .197 / .275 / .355 batting line during capture in 2022, equating to an 81 wRC + that finished 17th in the Majors. Twin receivers were far from the least productive unit of sport, but this is as much an indictment of current production (or lack thereof) by receivers across the league as it is a testimony of the body of capture of twins. Whatever path Falvey and his staff take, some form of complement to Jeffers seems inevitable. And, with only about $ 52.5 million on next year’s paycheck (if you take into account Correa’s opt-out and probable exercise of Sonny Gray‘s club option), there is plenty of room for updates up and down the roster.

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