MLB Hot Stove: Top five candidates ranked after lockdown, including Willson Contreras


As is so often the case, the capture market lacks quality options this offseason. It’s the most demanding job in sport and every time a team gets their hands on a better receiver, they tend to keep him for as long as possible. Quality daily sensors are rarely becoming available and it’s a particularly bad off season to need a sensor.

Most of the best available offseason receivers switched teams before the owners’ lockout. Tucker Barnhart and Jacob Stallings (and Jorge Alfaro) were traded, and Yan Gomes and Manny Piña (and Roberto Pérez) signed as free agents. Right here, according to FanGraphs’ projected WAR 2022, are the best free agent receivers available:

  1. Wilson Ramos: 0.5 WAR
  2. Stéphane Vogt: 0.5 WAR
  3. Robinson Chirinos: 0.2 WAR
  4. Luc Maile: 0.2 WAR
  5. Several at 0.1 WAR or less

Ramos is 34 years old and comes from a torn knee ligaments. Vogt and Chirinos are both 37 years old. There is no starting caliber catcher available in free agency at this time. At best, you can recover a veteran save. Teams looking for a starting receiver (Rangers and Yankees come to mind) have no choice but to look to the commercial market now, but the options are limited there as well.

With that in mind, here are the best catchers that might be available through trade once the lockdown is over. It should be noted that teams can discuss trades during the lockout, although they cannot consume trades involving players on the 40-player roster until both MLB and MLBPA agree to. a new collective agreement. Let’s move on to the best candidates for the profession of receiver.


All signs point to the reduction in the payroll of A’s and the abandonment of the main players after locking is complete. This includes Murphy, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, even if it is still four years from free will. Four cheap years of a wide receiver with power and good defensive chops equate to one of the most valuable trading chips in the game. It’s not crazy to think Oakland could get more for Murphy than a more prominent name like Matt Chapman or Matt Olson given the differences in team position and control (the Matts are only under team control until 2023).


An obvious business candidate and that was true before the Cubs signed Yan Gomes, adding to their receiving inventory. Chicago traded nearly all of their major players by the deadline, signaling a rebuild, but they also signed Marcus Stroman, indicating a desire to be competitive in 2022. In October, Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma suggested the Cubs will trade Contreras if both parties fail to strike a contract extension. He is due to become a free agent in the next offseason, which would normally limit his market value, but being one of the best catchers in the game makes him a scarce commodity. A single year of monitoring will not be a break.


The D-Backs have lost 110 games in 2021 and a quick return to competition seems unlikely in the harsh NL East. At this point, nothing can be ruled out for Arizona, and that includes making Kelly available. He’s been quite productive over the last two 162-game seasons and will remain in the squad’s control until 2024, making him a long-term buy. The D-Backs have a replacement receiver ready to go to Daulton Varsho (who had a great breakout year playing on the outfield). Trading Kelly would bring in a significant bunch of prospects to kick off what certainly looks like another rebuild in the wilderness.


Quality receivers are a precious commodity and the Blue Jays are way behind the plate. Kirk and Danny Jansen are legitimate starting backstops, Reese McGuire is a solid backup, and top prospect Gabriel Moreno is expected to arrive at some point in 2022. Toronto won’t be able to keep everyone, so it makes sense to hand in receivers available to improve the team elsewhere. I would make Kirk and Jansen (and McGuire) available and keep Moreno, but the Blue Jays should keep an open mind. Would they really let Moreno stop adding, say, José Ramírez?


Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt fall on their noses in 2021, so it’s probably an exaggeration to say that the Twins have three legitimate MLB receivers, although they are deeper behind the plate than most teams. Garver is productive and starts to get expensive through officiating, and has only two years of team control left. Considering Minnesota’s pitching needs, arming Garver and going with Jeffers and Rortvedt behind the plate has to be a consideration. The Twins would be foolish not to at least listen to the offers of the three players. There is nothing wrong with listening.


Two years ago, Melendez had an OPS below 600 with a withdrawal rate approaching 40% in high Class A. In 2021, he led the miners with 41 homers and hit 0.288 / 0.386 / 0.625 while hitting the triple A. Salvador Perez is locked up with a lot of money until 2025, and while keeping Melendez to share the chores of wide receiver as Perez enters his mid-thirties would be a smart move, the Royals suddenly have a great commercial chip themselves. A year ago at this time, Melendez was an afterthought. Now he’s a potential starting receiver at a time when few are available. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Royals have sent out appeals about Melendez this winter.


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