The Tampa Bay Rays offseason has officially begun and the team is looking to make moves that push them over the top for the franchise's first championship. They have stabilized at becoming a perennial postseason squad but some of the moves made will be the difference to getting them to the top of the metaphorical baseball mountain.
One of these big moves will be behind the plate with the catcher. This season, the Rays did not have a catcher on their roster with a frame and/or strike rate within the top 40 catchers in major league baseball.
In fact, an offseason catcher move has already happened with Tampa Bay as Christian Bethancourt was picked up by the Cleveland Guardians. This leaves Rene Pinto on the Rays' roster. Pinto played behind Bethancourt for the 2023 season. Fransisco Mejia is the other catcher who has played in St. Pete and is testing the market for other teams prior to 2024.
These factors leave catcher as one of, if not the most needed position for the Rays. The free agent market is stocked full of catchers and it could be time for the Rays to tap into it. Some of the big names include Mitch Garver, Yasmani Grandal, Martin Maldonado, Austin Hedges, etc.
If the Rays are looking to improve their play with framing, Hedges is a good and cheap option. His strike rate of 52.5% was second this season only to the San Fransisco Giants catcher Patrick Bailey. Hedges' downside is that he was a lackadaisical batter with an average below .200 in the past three seasons.
From an offensive side, the other Texas Rangers catcher, Mitch Garver looked very good and could very well be a viable option for Tampa Bay. With a batting average of .270, he was very patient with a high walk rate that stemmed off of a really good chase rate.
There are plenty of options for the Rays when it comes to finding catchers. It is a move that will really help their 2024 season and could possibly get them deeper into the postseason.