The Arizona Diamondbacks have a bit of a quandary at the catcher position. They lack depth within the system at the position and yet the 25-man roster has three catchers on it. Combined, the D-backs catchers rank 29th in the league with a .201 batting average. Defensively they rank dead last, with a Def (a measure of defensive productivity) of 2.5.
If the Diamondbacks are to make a run deep into the playoffs, it would behove them to look into the possibility of acquiring a veteran catcher that could step into a playoff situation and increase productivity at the position.
And sure enough, Fanrag’s Jon Heyman has mentioned the D-backs as possible suitors in the pursuit of Detroit’s catcher, Alex Avila. Avila is having a breakout season .276/.398/.481 and, with numbers like that, could be a huge upgrade for the D-backs at the position. The main issue may be the competition for Avila. It’s rumored that both the Cubs and Rockies may be front-runners in the race for the veteran catcher.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 27, 2017
If there’s a downside or two with Avila, it’s that he will be a free agent after the 2017 season, making him a rental for any team looking to acquire him. He’s also having a career year offensively but his numbers have dipped in July. He’s hitting only .154/.297/.154 in the month and those numbers alone are cause for concern as well as an indication that he’s regressing towards his career .251/.351/.403 slash line.
Of course, acquiring a catcher isn’t a must for the D-backs but when looking at possible positional weaknesses, outside of the clear need for a bullpen arm, the catcher position would seem to be an area ripe for upgrade. The real question may be what the D-backs would have to send to Detroit in exchange for a short-term catcher.
For the D-backs, the three-headed catching monster may be perpetuating the poor play at the position. With no catcher getting any consistent playing time, it’s hard for any of them to get into a groove, much less play with confidence that they’re the long-term solution.
Jeff Mathis has been playing quite well lately, though. For the season he’s batting .213 but he’s hitting .333 in July and is riding a 13-game on-base streak, including a single or better in 12 of those games. The real issue comes when you look at his 28.8 K% and 6.7 BB%.
Chris Iannetta has been a bit more productive offensively for the D-backs, slashing .233/.315/.487 for the year. But with a 32.7 K% and a 8.3 BB% he’s not exactly a guy you’d want up to bat in a critical spot come playoff time.
Chris Herrmann is the D-backs worst defensive and offensive option at the catcher position. His slash-line of .162/.250/.341 and -3.8 Def is the lowest among the D-backs catching trio. If there’s one consolation, it’s that he strikes out less and walks more than either of the other two. But, in the end, that doesn’t matter if you aren’t getting on base too.
With the addition of J.D. Martinez to the heart of the order, it’s clear the D-backs front office is serious about making a playoff run in 2017. The addition of a veteran catcher could prove to be the final piece they need to not only get to the postseason, but to make a run at their second World Series title.