In a recent press conference, Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said the team will use both Luis Torrens and Tom Murphy behind the dish. Dipoto reiterated how good Tom Murphy was in 2019, but at the same time, the team acquired Luis Torrens from the San Diego Padres for a reason.
There is nothing wrong with having two good catchers on your roster. Both can produce in the batter’s box, and both have their areas of expertise behind the dish. But, Dipoto was also asked about which prospects he expects to debut in 2021. One of those names was Cal Raleigh.
If Dipoto is expecting Cal Raleigh to debut in 2021, what happens to Murphy and Torrens? Who does Dipoto see as the Mariners catcher in a couple of seasons? I think 2021 will answer those questions, and it is heavily reliant on Torrens’ performance.
Luis Torrens with the Seattle Mariners
Torrens joined the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline in 2020, as part of the package for Austin Nola, Austin Adams, and Dan Altavilla, which I thought was a huge win for the Mariners.
He played 18 games and batted .254. Torrens posted a .323 OBP and .373 slugging percentage. He also posted a 97 OPS+ and 0.3 offensive WAR.
Luis Torrens’ numbers do not stand out by any means, but for a catcher, those numbers are reasonable. Dipoto has also praised his pitch-framing ability, which has become a major area of focus in the “new school” of catching.
Things to keep in mind, he is only 24-years-old and has not had a lot of MLB experience. The San Diego Padres had a crowded catching group when Torrens was on the team, so he did not get consistent playing time.
Based on all of this, the Seattle Mariners should keep the young catcher long term right? Well, the answer isn’t as simple.
The two other Seattle Mariners catchers
Mariners fans should be excited to see Tom Murphy back and healthy for the 2021 season. The soon to be 30-year-old put up some incredible numbers in 2019. If he played more games, I think he could have been an All-Star.
Murphy was a great find by Jerry Dipoto in 2019. Dipoto traded for him in a low profile trade with the San Francisco Giants, and it turned out to be great.
Although Murphy played incredibly well in 2019, he does turn 30-years-old in April. Tom is at a good age, but he isn’t going to get any younger.
The Mariners are not in a win-now mode so you start to wonder, how much longer he will remain in Seattle? It is a very similar situation to Austin Nola.
The Seattle Mariners also have Cal Raleigh creeping into the picture. Jerry Dipoto thinks Raleigh will be ready to join the big league team at some point in 2021.
Raleigh is the 8th ranked prospect in the organization and turned 24-years-old in November. He played 39 games in Double-A (Arkansas) in 2019. Raleigh has played pretty well in the minor leagues and is known for his power bat, but has made great strides defensively over the years.
2021 will determine Luis Torrens’ future
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With all that being said, Luis Torrens’ 2021 performance is crucial. He has a lot to prove and needs to prove it soon if he wants to remain in Seattle. Why do I think this?
For one, the Mariners really like Tom Murphy. It is rare to find a catcher that can hit and play solid defense. Murphy has also been a leader and has built great relationships with pitchers.
He is one of the many people to credit for the changes Justus Sheffield made, which led him to excel in 2020.
So, there aren’t a lot of reasons why we would trade Murphy other than his age. That’s where Luis Torrens fits in. He is young and showing promise, but we need more out of him.
If Torrens can impress the coaching staff in spring training and come out guns blazing in the regular season, that will spark some conversations in the front office.
If Torrens can hit .275, and hit 10 home runs in the first half of the regular season, I think Murphy might be on the move at the deadline.
I am not saying that I want to trade Tom Murphy, but if the Mariners want to give Cal Raleigh some time in 2021, moving one catcher would be beneficial.
Murphy might not be productive in a couple of years when the next wave of Seattle Mariners prospects arrive, so it might make sense to get some value out of Murphy now as we did with Nola.
On the other hand, if Torrens does not play well at all in 2021, it could break his Seattle Mariners career. Torrens does not have any minor league options so he could then become a trade candidate or DFA candidate.
Torrens is valuable, but if the Mariners lose confidence in him, he is expendable because the team has Cal Raleigh right behind him in the pecking order. And we can assume that Tom Murphy will play well in the short term.
In that case, it would open up a spot for Raleigh, and Murphy would take on most of the catching duties until Raleigh gets comfortable.
I don’t think the Mariners have any plans to move the catching prospect, so Murphy or Torrens will have to make room for Raleigh one way or the other (in the near term and long term).
Or, the Seattle Mariners keep all three
Although I think Murphy will be on the move, which is heavily reliant on Torrens’ performance, there is one more situation. The Mariners might opt to keep all three.
There is no rush to call up Cal Raleigh in 2021, even though Jerry Dipoto confidently said so in the press conference. If the front office can’t decide who to move or keep, they could just keep Cal Raleigh in Triple-A for the entire 2021 season.
Or, the Mariners could call up Cal Raleigh in September but I am not sure if they want three catchers on the roster.
Nonetheless, 2021 is a big year for Luis Torrens. He should receive plenty of play time and he needs to prove to the front office that he deserves to stick around in the short term, and long term.
I think Luis Torrens and Cal Raleigh are the future, so the battle between them will also be fun to watch. Let’s hope Torrens has a good season so Dipoto can count on him, which creates an opportunity to trade Murphy in exchange for some prospects.