MINNEAPOLIS — It seems these days that you can never have enough catching.
We all know the baseball truism that there’s no such thing as too much pitching. One injury to their starting catcher and the Twins have learned the axiom applies to catching, too.
Jason Castro will miss the remainder of the 2018 season, manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday. Castro was scheduled to go to a clinic in Colorado for a procedure that would have removed part of the meniscus in his right knee, an operation that could have cost him 4-6 weeks of recovery time.
Instead, doctors judged that a more significant operation was best, and they changed course to repair his meniscus, which in turn keeps him out of action for 5-6 months, according to Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey.
Mitch Garver is a fine offensive replacement and both Falvey and Molitor spoke optimistically about veteran Bobby Wilson behind the plate.
The Twins should be making phone calls right now to see if anybody has an extra catcher laying around. They should trade for an impact catcher.
CBO Derek Falvey intimated as much when he met with a small collection of media members Tuesday.
“I think we feel pretty good about the guys right now, in Bobby and Mitch. But that’s not to say that there won’t be an opportunity that presents that we could pursue,” Falvey said.
Let’s look at what they have, quickly, and then just outline a few possibilities.
Mitch Garver: Long believed to be a bat-first catcher whose defense was coming along, Garver is hitting .254/.313/.424 this year. That’s pretty good for a catcher, and certainly a big step up from what the Twins were getting from Castro. On the flip side, Garver has had a handful of moments already this year in which we were reminded that he’s not Castro behind the plate.
Bobby Wilson: Veteran journeyman catcher seemingly well-liked by everybody around Target Field. Falvey and Molitor spoke highly of his leadership ability behind the plate — a trait for which there is probably not an advanced metric but should never be ignored.
“We think from a defensive standpoint, Jason, we’ve talked about his leadership and game calling,” Falvey said. “In Bobby, we’ve seen a little bit of what we believe he really can do there. He’s had less experience at the Major League level but that certainly was one of the reasons that we recruited him here — leadership of staff and game calling and framing. So we feel that will be in a good spot.”
Minor league depth: Wilson was called up from the minor league ranks when Castro went on the disabled list in early May. After him the Twins hae Willians Astudillo, Jordan Pacheco and Wynston Sawyer at Triple-A Rochester.
“Any time you lose a Major League piece and then you have to go tap into your depth, your layer below that is typically a little bit behind. So we feel like we’re protected in a pinch, but we’re going to pursue potential opportunities, if we can, to upgrade in that space.”
That brings us to the question du jour: Who is out there?
The Mets had a pair of catchers go down and their trade return — Devin Mesoraco — might say a little something about the current trade market for catchers.
J.T. Realmuto, Marlins. Miami hosted an estate sale this winter, and Realmuto was about the only good young building block that didn’t leave their doors. He has 2 more years of team control after this one and is a great hitter. For those reasons, he should cost a lot to acquire.
Given the volume of impact trades the Fish made this winter under new ownership, the fact that Realmuto wasn’t dealt could be an indication of what Miami’s executives thought about the relative value of any trade offers.
If the Twins offered a big haul, would the Marlins bite? Would the Twins be aggressive enough to get that done?
How many teams in baseball already know that they’d be willing to sell at the trade deadline? There are at least a handful. If the Twins lower their sights from Realmuto, would they make any of these four phone calls?
A.J. Ellis, Padres. San Diego has called up Raffy Lopez, who is listed first on the team’s depth chart. Ellis, 37, is being listed as the backup while Austin Hedges is on the DL (elbow tendinitis).
Robinson Chirinos, Rangers. Texas is 9 games under .500 and stood on some shaky footing before the season began. Their starter behind the plate has a contract option (club) for 2019, too.
Salvador Perez, Royals. I like him a lot behind the plate. He’s signed to a 5-year deal to stay with the Royals through 2021, so take that for what it’s worth.
Chanco Sisco, Orioles. Wait, nevermind.
Jonathan Lucroy, A’s. Was one of the best catchers on a frozen free-agent market before he agreed to sign with the A’s. The question in my mind is whether or not Oakland is a legitimate Wild Card contender, and if they’re in that race, would they be aggressive with a trade like this?
Falvey was asked Tuesday if Castro’s extended absence would make the Twins intensify their efforts on the catching front. He suggested that the team already had been kicking around the idea of adding depth, knowing they’d be without Castro for a month at least. Falvey said the additions out there are likely to come from within an organization, which means it would not likely be one of the free agents out there still looking for work.
Now that a starting-caliber catcher could play the remainder of the season — as opposed to being a one-month stopgap — perhaps a starting catcher would be more appealing. The Twins’ actions will tell us a lot about what they really think of their current catching situation.
Last thought that might be worth a phone call or text:
Are the Dodgers ready to sell a catcher?