With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, there are still many moving pieces. Joel Sherman of The New York Post (Twitter links) reports that the Rays, Marlins, Rangers and Diamondbacks are in the catching market, with Austin Hedges of the Pirates a speculative fit. It was reported in June that the Marlins were keeping an eye on the catching market.
Hedges, 30, has never provided much offensively, with a career batting line of .189/.247/.323 dating back to 2015. This year’s line of .180/.237/.230 is even lower than his career output. But he’s always garnered attention as a glove-first backstop. He has career tallies of 83 Defensive Runs Saved and a grade of 77.3 from the FanGraphs framing metric. The former figure is tops in the majors for that stretch while the latter places him third.
Despite that strong defensive work, there would be logic in the Pirates moving on. They are currently nine games out of a playoff spot with a record of 47-58. Hedges is on a one-year, $5MM deal and is an impending free agent. They have already traded another impending free agent in Carlos Santana and reportedly have a deal in place to send Rich Hill and Ji Man Choi to the Padres as they approach the open market as well. With catching prospects Henry Davis and Endy Rodríguez already at the big league level, it makes sense to send Hedges elsewhere and let those two take the reins.
The listed suitors all make sense due to recent injuries. The Rays lost Francisco Mejía to a left knee MCL sprain about two weeks ago, leaving them with Christian Bethancourt and René Pinto as the only healthy backstops on their 40-man roster. The Diamondbacks are in a similar position after placing Gabriel Moreno on the IL about a week ago due to shoulder inflammation, leaving them with Carson Kelly and José Herrera. The Rangers recently lost Jonah Heim to the injured list due to a wrist issue and surgery is still possible, leaving them with Mitch Garver and Sam Huff as their health options on the roster.
Any of those clubs would be a sensible addition for extra catching help, as they are each currently in possession of a playoff spot. Apart from Hedges, some catchers that could be available include Yasmani Grandal, Elias Díaz, Joey Bart, Víctor Caratini, Iván Herrera, Tom Murphy and Omar Narváez.