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.
This guy is so UNDERRATED.
The staff ERA when he catches is always better than his counterpart.
He has sneaky power too. Not a great hitter but he’s better than most backup catchers.
If he doesn’t resign with SF another team will get a dependable and serviceable catcher.
I’d be glad to see him for another stint in SF, too.
@davemlaw – well said!
Difference is the Giants are looking for a starting catcher not a backup. Since Trevino has become the Yankees starting catcher and they have Higashioka to back him up the Giants should try to get Rortvedt from them if the price is reasonable. He is a good hitting coach away from being a very good MLB catcher. His defense is solid and he is a decent framer. He’s only 25 and has plenty of team control remaining. The Yankees have a wealth of catching prospects with Austin Wells leading the pack. He should be in AA next year sometime. Which puts his timeline at roughly 2 years. They also have Carlos Narvaez who I think is on his way to being a star. Still very young but he is impressive to me. They don’t need Rortvedt but won’t just give him away. I’m sure the Giants can get him and will fit in well.
Uh, no. Bart is the starting catcher, silly.
guynamedchris — Joey Bart’s hold on the starting catcher job is VERY tenuous. If he doesn’t improve behind the plate and doesn’t cut down the strikeouts, the Giants have to move on, probably as soon as early May.
So why not trade for the Blue Jays’ Jansen or someone who can actually hit?
Why would the Giants trade for Ben Rortvedt, when the have a more highly rated prospect in Patrick Bailey?
davemlaw is right. Anyone remember when he caught a record 5 straight shutouts?
Very good behind the plate and pitchers love him. I hope he’s back in a Giants uni this year.
Ok but he can’t HIT
Frisco should have been in on Contreras. Bart is a Bust and even with the Addition of Correa this team is gonna have a hard time posting 83-84 wins
I prefer defense over offense with the catching position. Any offense is a bonus.
I agree but there are catchers who can hit decent. All things equal you’d prefer them. A catcher around 80ops+ is decent if they are great at catching. But when you get into Maldonado territory I’m starting to question how much it’s worth it as a starter.
Rishi, I’m sure there’s a point where defense at catcher without offense ceases to be of an advantage, but Maldonado is an odd choice as an example given how his team did last season.
Why does Houston being so good have to imply Maldonado himself is good? Why does that have to play a role? They have a great all around team. He could be a backup and still work with the pitchers and the starting catcher on a game plan. I bet if Vazquez was the starter most of the year they still would have probably won the WS although the butterfly effect may have changed the outcome it wouldn’t necessarily mean it was because Maldonado is good. I am glad teams see catching as so important they will start someone like him. But I’m not sure Houston planned on him having another 60ops+ season (or whatever it was). He has hit a bit better in the past before 2021, if I recall.
Yes the Astros being the best team in baseball in 2022 does imply just that. Catchers are the most critical position on the field. They need to work well with the pitching staff. And not just work well, but be familiar with every pitcher on the staff, and how each wants to work batters. Being able to call pitches is vastly important. Sure, they’re just a suggestion, and it’s the pitcher’s decision, but do you want the pitcher shaking off signs every AB until the get the one they want?
Catchers control the running game. Managers rely on feedback from the catcher on, not only how the pitcher is doing, but on defensive positioning. Catchers control the pace of the game. Catchers get strikes called with good framing, as well as not losing strike calls from bad receiving. It’s the catcher that has the best view of how batter’s set up in box revealing what the batter is trying to do, and is the one to use that info.
Apparently you greatly underrate how important a catcher is. It’s a team game, and it takes more than a good catcher to win, but I can guarantee you Buster Posey had a big role in the Giants 3 WS titles. And look at how badly they did from 2021, when they had Posey, and 2022 when he was gone.
The Astros won with Maldonado because, despite the bat, he’s a good catcher. Would they have won with another good catcher? Of course. But they wouldn’t have won with Maldonado if he was a bad catcher. So yes, again, it does imply that.
I do not underestimate catchers. I always say the exact same thing you are saying. Literally I say it almost daily on here. I still think there are plenty catchers who are decent offensively and can hit at least somewhat and Maldonado can start less. Once again he would still be working with pitchers daily and with the starting/platooning catcher. He’s only gonna get worse offensively in all likelihood. I believe Houston thought similarly or they wouldn’t have traded for Vazquez. They were also rumored to be looking for a catcher this offseason who could seemingly do exactly what I’m suggesting. I’m not saying he shouldn’t start 1/3 of the time or so. If he would mentor the other catcher it would be ideal.
Honestly there no point in us debating it because half of me agrees with you already. Lol. I really can’t decide for sure on Maldonado. I’ve been that way for a couple of years, going back and forth in my opinions.
It really is a good discussion though I think. If there are quite a few catchers hitting at least pretty close to 100ops+ or higher who are good defensively where is the tipping point where his declining offense makes him no longer as valuable as one of the 95ops+ guys who can frame and call a great game. Because there are quite a few really good defensive catchers who are career minor leaguers because they cannot hit. But catching is obviously most important position. Braves just gave up more years of Contreras and what was left of their farm just to upgrade defensively presumably at C. Unless one thinks Contreras was a bit flukey offensively
Since we seem to agree about their importance, our biggest disagreement is probably how many truly good catchers are competent with that bat. My guess is I think there are fewer than you do. You may be right. There may be more than I think there are. Admittedly it’s pure conjecture on my part.
As to Maldonado, his lack of offense is obvious from his stats. He truly cannot hit. But that lack of hitting did not prevent the Astros from winning it all. So my assumption is he provided more plus value with his D, than the negative value from his lack of hitting did. Certainly a good catcher that can hit would be an upgrade though.
Buzz Saw — Yes, I agree. But even a .250 hitter with some bat control and pop would strengthen the lineup. I love Casali as the backup but not as the everyday, unless he can duplicate his hitting with the Reds.
For a backup he’s great for any club, as far as Bart goes, you may end up eating your words there. 11 homers in 260 ab. I can see him plugging 20 a year and hitting for .260. He has a positive war also. He’ll be fine. As far as your theory on win column, they are on paper better than last year and you think they’ll fall further? Cmon man. Haters going to hate I guess
@Balk: I wouldn’t call Bart a bust, either, but there’s a reason the FO has been shopping around for an upgrade. Bart has way too much swing and miss in his game, and for what power is there, if he continues to hit near the Mendoza line, with average or below average numbers at defense, well then he could be worth less than replacement value. I’d like to see more of what he can do before I turn the page, but he’ll need to make some strides this year if he’s to be a starting catcher.
I felt like Bart was making strides at the plate and getting better towards the end of the season.
@Scott: I get it, but like @Fishchum said, he made some good strides towards the end. He was rushed.
I agree he’s a good packup
I beg to differ Casali handled pitchers, so well where they had much better quality starts – I think he handled disco where he was actually pitching well without casali Disco was not very good.
Disco pitched poorly in 2022 due to a badly damaged ankle. How well he does in 2023 will depend on how successful the surgery was.
The Giants won 81 games last year. How does adding a 6 WAR player in Correa and a 3 WAR player in Haniger improve them by only 2 wins?
They have also lost an ace. At least he was one last year. We’ll see if he signs again.
And they’re replacing Rodon with Desclafani, Stripling, and Manaea. Are any as good as Rodon? No. But there a lot better than the depth options the Giants used last year so I’d call the starting rotation a net neutral.
Move on? From their #2 overall pick who is still pre arbitration and performing at a league average level? That’s ridiculous. A handful of teams have a premium catcher. The rest of the league is happy with any catcher who doesn’t embarrass themselves. Bart might not be a star in SF, but he has some leash.
Bart is far from a bust. No he’s not Posey. But almost no one is. If he can continue to perform at league average levels for the next couple of years the Giants will be plenty happy with his production.
People are acting like the Giants didn’t lose seven games less than the NL champions. The way the playoffs are now it’s about getting in and who knows what happens. They’ve improved their offense a fair amount and losing Rodon would hurt but the Giants have a relatively solid rotation (definitely isn’t going to win any popularity contests though). I think the three key players are going to be Disco, Bart and Harrison
This one belongs to the Reds
Loved him in Cincinnati. But that is not happening again I am sure since they decided to Maile it in.
Posey absolutely ruined that franchise by quitting
I know hr retired relatively early, but there’s nothing you can do about it. I agree the team hasn’t been the same without him. I often wish he would come out of retirement to catch. If not that, than maybe he could come back and coach Bart, Sabol and Wynn.
He is living on the EAST COAST, so training his replacements defies the concept of retiring being with family. I think he will comeback more frequently later (after kids age up) — Giants did get him on the ownership board to keep him around for sure.
avenger65 — Sabol can definitely hit, but I imagine his defense behind the plate is questionable. I guess we’ll get to see in Spring Training.
Sorry @avenger you need to retire that dream of Posey coming out of retirement. Posey is part of the ownership group now, and I don’t think you can be owner and player at the same time.
Casali handled pitchers great – That is where he is needed – they should bring him back for that alone. Just about every game he was calling behind the plate pitchers would have more quality starts than not.
I’m not sure why Gary Sanchez isn’t being discussed? Guy has hit 33 and 34 HR’s in two of his seasons and he just turned 30 a couple days ago so not super old.
There is a reason why not only do the Giants not want Sanchez, neither does most every other team. Sanchez is a DH. You have to be decent at catching for those HRs to be worth anything as a catcher.
Lol I figured there was something wrong with him if he’s still a free agent
Not to mention that his hitting skills have basically evaporated. In his past three seasons, he’s averaged .195/.287/.394 in about 528 ABs. He averaged about 27 HRs, but that’s about it.
SFGiantsGallore — Gary Sanchez is an absolutely abominable defensive catcher and has hit .185 (2018), .232 (2019), .147 (2020), .204 (2021) and .205 (last year). His OBP sucks. A complete non-starter on any Giants roster.
I think Gary renamed himself to Poorman Chris Davis, but I may be mistaken
Wilmer the Thrillmer
Casali is one of Kapler’s boys. Casali and Kapler used to stage fake boxing matches in the dugout before many games. I think they finally stopped because they started to get realistic looking. Casali has power and his defensive and game calling accumen are truly top shelf. I’m surprised no one has snatched him yet.
What’s being missed here is that any chance at a reunion with Rodon hinges upon them resigning Casali.