The Giants have made big splashes to their infield and outfield this offseason with the signing of Carlos Correa and Mitch Haniger. They upgraded their rotation by signing Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling. One thing still on the to-do list is addressing their catching corps, with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting the club has been in contact with Curt Casali about him returning to the club.
When Buster Posey retired after the 2021 season, it was hoped that prospect Joey Bart could step up and take over as the club’s everyday backstop. Unfortunately, that hasn’t come to fruition just yet. At the plate, he’s got some power but undercuts his value with strikeouts. He’s been punched out in 38% of his plate appearances thus far in his career and has a batting line of .215/.296/.364 for a wRC+ of 90. He was also given negative marks by Defensive Runs Saved and FanGraphs’ framing metric in 2022. As Slusser notes in her piece, Bart was nudged out of working with either Carlos Rodón or Logan Webb down the stretch last year.
Veteran Austin Wynns, who is still on the roster, ended up getting into 57 games behind the plate for the club last year. His defensive numbers were around league average, better than Bart, but he’s unlikely to provide much with the bat. The 32-year-old has a career batting line of .231/.275/.337 for a wRC+ of 68. There’s a third catcher on the 40-man roster in Blake Sabol. The Giants just acquired him from the Reds, who grabbed him from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft. He has great batting numbers in the minors but no major league experience. He also plays the outfield, making him perhaps best suited for a third catcher/utility role.
Given those options, it’s unsurprising that the club would be open to finding more certainty behind the plate. They were connected to both Sean Murphy and Christian Vázquez in recent weeks, but those players are each now off the board, having been traded to Atlanta and signed with Minnesota, respectively.
Casali, 34, is a perfectly serviceable big league catcher, though he’s never really been a club’s primary option. Though he has 462 career games played, he’s never tallied more than 84 in any individual season. He’s generally been a strong defender behind the plate, having tallied 16 Defensive Runs Saved in his career and a slightly above-average mark in terms of framing. He’s not a liability at the plate either, with a career batting line of .223/.316/.392. That amounts to a wRC+ of 92, which is 8% below league average overall but roughly average for a catcher. His 27.8% strikeout rate is definitely on the high side but he also has drawn walks at a strong 10.7% rate. The Giants are surely familiar with him as he played for them in 2021 and the first half of 2022, getting dealt to the Mariners at the deadline.
Casali would be a perfectly defensible addition, but the Giants will have other options. The trade market is now headlined by the Blue Jays and their trio of backstops: Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno. The free agent market doesn’t have many super exciting options now that Vázquez and Willson Contreras have signed, with Austin Hedges, Roberto Pérez, Omar Narváez and Gary Sánchez some of those still out there.
None of these options are likely to break the bank from a financial perspective. Roster Resource currently pegs the Giants’ payroll at $190MM and their CBT figure at $206MM. They are getting near their franchise high payroll of $201MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, though that was back in 2018. They also have plenty of room under the luxury tax, though if they succeed in their continued attempts to retain Rodón, that would significantly change the picture.