Teams are zeroing in on one of the best bats at the catcher position.
With Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnaud quickly coming off the board early on in the offseason, teams have shifted their catching search to the trade market. The biggest benefactor of this appears to be the Seattle Mariners, who may have the best catching duo in all of baseball between Omar Narváez and Tom Murphy.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan took to Twitter earlier this morning to report that Narváez’s name continues to pop up in the rumor mill, with Seattle seemingly more than willing to part with their catcher who hit 22 home runs last season. As Passan mentions in his post, however, the concern on Narváez is his defense, which ranked dead last amongst all catchers last year, per FanGraphs, and may wind up limiting the return the Mariners will ultimately receive if they strike a deal.
The Mariners should be able to work the market in their favor, though. Now that d’Arnaud and Grandal are gone, the free agency market for catchers is nearly paper thin and there are several teams still looking for quality backstops. Of those teams, the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim make a ton of sense for Narváez.
This was Narváez’s first season as a team’s de facto catcher and he made the most of it, poor defense aside. Even when Murphy started to see more playing time as the season drew longer, Narváez still got in the lineup consistently as both would alternate between the backstop and designated hitter spots in Seattle’s lineup.
Narváez, as mentioned, provided power with his bat but did a lot more than just that, finishing the season with a .278/.353/.460 slash line and a wRC+ of 119—the fourth best mark for any catcher in the league, even ahead of Gary Sánchez and J.T. Realmuto.
We’ll see how this all unfolds, which may be rather quickly given that Passan said “a deal could be completed soon.” Seems like there’s pretty strong movement between the Mariners and whoever has inquired about the 27-year-old slugger.