JANUARY 4: Leon’s deal comes with a $1.25MM base salary if he makes the MLB roster, with additional incentives available, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).
JANUARY 3: The Marlins have signed catcher Sandy Leon to a minor league deal. The contract contains an invitation for Leon to attend Miami’s big league Spring Training camp. In addition to Leon, the Marlins also officially announced six other players (infielder Eddy Alvarez, catcher Brian Navarreto, and right-handers Zach Thompson, Alexander Guillen, Anthony Bender, and Luis Madero) received spring invites on minor league contracts.
A veteran of nine big league seasons, Leon is best known for his five seasons with the Red Sox from 2015-19, a stint that saw him collect a World Series ring in 2018 and unexpectedly step up as an offensive threat (.845 OPS in 283 plate appearances) in 2016. That 2016 campaign stands out as a big outlier amidst Leon’s overall career numbers, however, as he has a .216/.284/.327 slash line over 1379 career PA.
Leon didn’t even reach that modest level of production in 2020, as he hit .136/.296/.242 in 81 PA with the Indians. It’s pretty clear Miami isn’t signing Leon for his bat, but rather his well-documented defensive skill — Leon is well-respected as a game-caller and he was an above-average pitch-framer in both 2018 and 2019. Leon also has some impressive caught-stealing numbers over his career, though those totals have dipped over the last two years.
The signings of both Leon and Navarreto add some depth to a Marlins catching mix that consists of Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach. Alfaro is coming off a tough season at the plate, but as a former top prospect, he’ll be given plenty more chances to firmly establish himself as a regular backstop. Wallach is another defense-first catcher, so with Leon now in the mix, Wallach will need a solid showing in Spring Training to retain his job on the active roster.
Navarreto is back in Miami after making his MLB debut with the team last season, appearing in two games. Originally a sixth-round pick for the Twins in the 2013 draft, Navarreto has hit .214/.264/.307 over 1753 career PA in the minors (in the Twins and Yankees farm systems) without ever reaching Triple-A ball. He signed a minor league deal with the Marlins last winter but naturally never appeared in the minors due to the cancellation of the minor league season.
Alvarez is the only other member of the group to appear in the majors, as he hit .189/.268/.216 for the Marlins last season in the first 41 Major League plate appearances of his career. Alvarez’s MLB debut made headlines, as the former Olympic silver medal-winning speed skater became the first former Olympian (in a sport besides baseball, of course) to appear in the majors since the legendary Jim Thorpe. Beginning his career as an undrafted free agent, Alvarez has hit .278/.375/.413 with 40 homers over 2430 minor league PA, working mostly as a shortstop but also playing a significant amount of second and third base.
I’m sure he will love the sandy beaches in Miami.
Hope Sandy can help Alfaro figure things out.
You mean Red Sox legend signs with Marlins
He’s still better than 25% of the catchers on MLB rosters right now.
Facts. He Is the definition of an MLB backup catcher.
And that is his role with the Marlins as he mentors Alfaro.
Van – better definitely yes, but he can not hit at all….
The Red Sox obviously wanted someone who could hit at least a little.
No, his hitting is and always will be sub-par. He does, however, bring solid skills behind the plate and has helped a number of pitchers over the years. If I were a manager, I would welcome him as a back-up to my #1.
Yes, the Red Sox felt he was not worth keeping! That is why they traded him. You can not argue that point. It is already history.
“you can not argue that point” Why can’t it be argued? Red Sox kept him as a backup for 5 years, thats FIVE YEARS. Are they just really slow at see a guy can’t hit? No, they just found a better option in Plawecki.
Since when is -.2 WAR in 2020 better than 25% of the catchers?
I noticed you just chose his 2020 WAR, to make your arguement. How about his career war of +2.4 WAR, or 5 years of +2.3 WAR. By both of those standards he is above most backup catchers. See cherrypicking stats is easy.
Yes but he still can’t hit well outside of 2016. He is good on defense. I don’t think he’s terrible but the original poster said he’s 25% better than most and I’m not sure I believe that. Call it cherrypicking but at least I used actual stats and I only wanted to say he’s not that great.
Long story short this isn’t big news.
By the way, if I was truly cherrypicking, I would take out the “in 2020.” I left that context in intentionally.
Not hitting 200 was a problem. He completely changed the dynamic of our lineup for the worst.
A yawner. The Leon sleeps tonight … and every night in the batter’s box. Bring on automated balls and strikes so catchers can be chosen for their bat, not their framing skill.
That’ll be the end of the yankees as they rely on dumpire favored status for an success whatsoever. That and vitamins. As you were. Mask up catchers.
Well that’s just plain false Whyhayzee. A study on what robot umps would do last year showed that Aroldis Chapman had more strikes stolen from him than any other pitcher, and that players like Judge and Stanton had more balls called strikes than almost any other batter. But who needs facts?
Not sure what you expect out of a backup catcher, but Leon is a perfect fit. In Boston, many pitchers preferred him to Vazquez, for his catching ability. No bat? absolutely, but if he did bat he’d be a starter. Great pickup on minor league contract.
Welcome back, Eddy Alvarez! He’s one off the best infield gloves I’ve ever seen.
Overrated fighter though
tom brunanskys black sock
Baseball is better off when Pecan Sandy has a job.
That’s never been his nickname. Stop trying so hard to be funny. You’re never going to fill the apparently giant hole in yourself with unfunny comments here.
George hubschman, roto imbeciles
Good to see the former Winter Olympian, Eddy Alvarez, re-upping with the Marlins. Sandy Leon could even force his way into the picture given his 4.6 career dWAR. Leon’s offensive production, particularly since 2018, would make Dal Maxvill proud. But let’s realize that Alvarez will be 31 at the end of this month so time isn’t his friend.
Take away his bizarre 2016 and Leon isn’t even replacement level. He’s best role is being the back up to the backup catcher.
tom brunanskys black sock
Yeah but he thing is you can’t just arbitrarily subtract random stretches of numbers. That season happened, in real life. It exists.
@ tom brunanskys black sock – Exactly; then if you change it up, subtract everything except his 2016 and he is awesome and what a steal by the Marlins; lol.
And he’s coming to mentor Alfaro and guide this young pitching staff.
It’s not arbitrary. I don’t view four years ago as particularly relevant when evaluating players, especially when that year is an extreme outlier and he had an unsustainable .392 BABiP. The rest of his career is very consistent, so look at that and his most recent body of work, and you’ll have a clearer idea of who he is.
It’s not arbitrary at all. Xabial here is really reaching with this one.
Good glove, good arm, one of the better behind the dish in that way in the game, only does not have a hot streak with the bat to save his offensive line, as does another glove only FA at another position this year and thinks is worth an awful lot of money, yet isn’t.
When was with Boston they had 2 solid defensive catchers in Leon and Vazquez, yet there were some (sale included) whom preferred throwing to Leon, he calls and plays that good of a game behind the dish, lethargic bat and all.
He’s very good with pitchers. I’m guessing he sticks with Miami as the backup and a cpl of the starters prefer him as well eventually. His game behind the dish, diving for balls etc is nice to watch.
John – Bloom may be monitoring Bradley’s market, but JBJ’s price would have to completely tank for Bloom to sign him. IMO, Bloom signs a depth option with mlb experience in all three outfield positions for about the same price as Renfro.
If Bloom spends any money over two or three million on a player, it will likely be pitching.
Good mentor for Alfaro. I could see him making the team
I love it. Anything that could push Alfaro at this point is a win. 2021 fees like his last chance to become the franchise catcher.
Say what you like about his offense but there’s a reason Boston kept him around for 5 years, he’s a great game caller. Could definitely see him as a manager once he’s done playing.
Eddy! what a great story. hope he can stick eventually.
Leon is a good signing for the Marlins. Alfaro is going to be pushed to be better on defense with both Leon and Wallach. If Alfaro doesn’t get his defensive skills together, he’ll be splitting time with those 2 instead of being that starting catcher.
The other signings look like decent organizational depth.
Now the Marlins need to just add a closer type and probably a RH hitting middle IF like maybe Hanser Alberto or Utility guy to bounce around with Berti in the lineup rotation or a low-risk/high-reward bat like Nomar Mazara or other younger bat to gamble on and compete against our young guys like Harold Ramirez, Magneuris Sierra, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Jesus Sanchez, etc.
I have watched Leon for years as my daughter is a huge RS fan. He was always a favorite for both of us. He no longer hits much, but he is one of the best game callers I’ve ever seen. He would be a very good acquisition for the young Marlins’ pitching staff. He would also be a great mentor for Alfaro. Good pickup with no risk.
This dude rakes and hits bombs.
SCHWING and A Miss
Kings of Sandy Leon is a useful fantasy name again,thanks Miami
Pitch framing is to the MLB what flopping is to the NBA. Please give us automated strike zones. Don’t let the floppers win. Bamboozling umpires/referees shouldn’t be part of competitive sports
The Zach Thompson link is to a pitcher fresh out of college when the one invited to ST is 27 and has a White Sox uniform on his baseball reference profile. Mark, can you fix the link?
He was in Boston for five years?! Wow. If you asked, I would have guessed 2.5-3.