Seattle Mariners fans have clamored throughout the offseason for an upgrade at catcher, but it doesn’t appear their wish will be granted.
The Mariners relied primarily on veteran Tom Murphy and rookie Cal Raleigh behind the plate in 2021, with a dash of Luis Torrens, and the trio caused significant frustration for fans. Murphy posted a .202/.304/.350 slash line while seemingly unable to make a single tag play at home, Raleigh struggled to the tune of a 48 OPS+ (where 100 is league average), and Torrens’s defensive performance at catcher was one of the worst in recent Mariners memory.
Despite their catchers’ struggles, Seattle Times beat writer Ryan Divish reported recently that the Mariners have no plans to make any changes at the position.
Regarding Murphy, Divish reported the following statement from Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto:
"“We feel like the contributions that he makes outside of what he does offensively are so vast that there’s no question he’s going to be part of our team. Murph has leadership skills; he’s very smart. He understands what we’re trying to get through from an advanced scouting perspective, our pregame strategies, our bullpen management, each guy he is dialed in to what their optimal mix is, the way they sequence their pitches and how they go about it. And he’s not afraid to be vocal in the game with both starters and relievers.”"
The Mariners are acclaimed for their excellent pitching development program, which has produced fantastic results from reclamation projects such as Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, Casey Sadler, and Kendall Graveman. According to Dipoto, Tom Murphy plays a significant role in that process, so despite his offensive limitations, he’s expected to continue getting reps on a consistent basis.
In Divish’s report, Dipoto also mentioned that Cal Raleigh has proven everything he can at Triple-A Tacoma, and he’s expected to contribute at the major league level next season. Raleigh put up impressive offensive numbers in the minor leagues and exhibited solid defense in Seattle last season, so the Mariners are expecting a spike in production.
The possibility remains for Luis Torrens to develop into the Mariners’ primary catcher, but with the value the team places on pitcher development, that notion looks unlikely. And as for any hopes of acquiring All-Stars such as Willson Contreras or Yan Gomes – it appears that thought is out the window.