The Guardians have added some extra depth at catcher, signing veteran backstop Sandy Leon to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, per a club announcement. It’ll be the second stint in Cleveland for Leon, who is represented by the MAS+ Agency.
Leon, 32, spent the 2021 season with the Marlins, appearing in 83 games and batting .183/.237/.267 with four homers and five doubles in 220 plate appearances. That marked the tenth consecutive season in which Leon has logged at least brief Major League action.
While the switch-hitting veteran posted a strong .310/.369/.476 slash back in 2016, that sample of 283 plate appearances now looks like a clear outlier. In five seasons since that time, Leon has batted just .192/.257/.298 through nearly 1100 plate appearances. It’s not a strong offensive profile, but Leon regularly posts strong framing and blocking numbers. His caught-stealing rates have dipped in recent seasons, but last year’s 27% mark was still a bit better than the leaguewide average of 25%.
Roberto Perez and Austin Hedges combined to handle the bulk of catching duties in Cleveland this past season, but Perez’s 2021 club option was declined at season’s end after a second straight year of struggles at the plate. Hedges currently projects as the starter, but there’s a clear opportunity for a veteran — be it Leon or someone else — to come in and win at least a backup job. Prospect Bryan Lavastida was added to the 40-man roster last Friday, but he’s only played seven Triple-A games to this point in his career and likely needs some more development.