Though the Indians will be without Yan Gomes for up to eight weeks, the team will not pursue starting catcher alternatives, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Cleveland believes that Roberto Perez can fill in as an everyday option behind the dish, according to Rosenthal. However, they may look to acquire a backup catching option that they consider to be an upgrade over Brett Hayes, who currently will fill the role with Perez’s playing time increasing.
The 31-year-old Hayes has seen Major League playing time in each of the past six seasons, though in some cases the sample was smaller than 20 plate appearances in a season. Despite the fact that Hayes is a pretty light-hitting option — as evidenced by his career .209/.252/.353 batting line — he’s still logged 175 games and 428 plate appearances in the Majors. He’s been roughly average in terms of catching base-stealers (25 percent) and has added some value with his ability to block pitches, though he does grade out as a below-average framer.
Earlier today I speculated that Dioner Navarro may be a fit in Cleveland, as he’d have an everyday role in Cleveland for the next couple of months (something both Navarro and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos have hoped to find), but it seems that GM Chris Antonetti and his staff will pursue moves on a smaller scale.
Looking at the free agent market, there isn’t much presently available, at least not in terms of players who accumulated notable Major League action in 2014. J.P. Arencibia, 29, was released by the Orioles last week, and veteran switch-hitter Ryan Doumit didn’t sign a contract this offseason. However, Arencibia’s batting average and on-base percentage have continued a downward spiral over the past few seasons, and Doumit’s glove behind the plate has never drawn strong reviews.
Looking to the trade market, the Yankees may be willing to part with the recently outrighted Austin Romine, though they were likely happy to sneak him through waivers given his former top prospect status. Baltimore has a few viable options, most notably Steve Clevenger, whose agent has recently hinted that a trade may be more preferable than further time at the Triple-A level. The White Sox also have quite a bit of catching depth, with five backstops on their 40-man roster — Rob Brantly, Adrian Nieto and Kevan Smith are all in the Minors — and veteran George Kottaras at Triple-A as well. Colorado’s Wilin Rosario was known to be available for much of the winter, but he’s a poor defender behind the plate and likely qualifies as a higher-profile acquisition than Cleveland hopes to make.