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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 23

As we enter the final month of the regular season we start to see more prospects getting the big league phone call as rosters expand. The September call-up season can muddy up the waters even more for fantasy baseball's already most volatile position, which further adds to the frustration of managers. With that being said, we need to keep on top of the landscape of the position just in case a few new faces start to take over the position or if too many foul tips off the mask start adding up as the year wears on.

If you are not one of those fortunate souls who are privileged with a high-caliber catcher, we'll go through a few tiers of backstops who will fit your specific league format. Every season the waiver wire is full of potential league-winning gems and to be a successful fantasy player you need to be an active fantasy player. Some people may believe that catchers are next to worthless for your team, but if you find an unowned superior performer in your league, you'll wind up with a massive advantage over your opponents.

The catching position has the least amount of volume of any other spot on the diamond with the number of platoons utilized by teams, so understand that a part-time backstop can still be productive at the position. Whether you plan to stream this spot on your roster weekly or if you're looking to find a long term option, we'll go through a vast range of backstops who'll hopefully take you to the fantasy promise land.

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Top-Priority Adds

This tier is targeted towards single-catcher mixed leagues as they are likely to only be available in these formats. These backstops are also particularly serviceable and could return top-10 value in their respective lineups, making it a mystery why they are unowned in the first place.

Travis D'Arnaud  (C, TB) - 37% Owned

Travis d’Arnaud’s recent offensive tear has catapulted him into the top-10 at the position. He’s racked up hits in six of his last eight contests including clubbing a pair of dingers with five runs and six RBI while firmly planted in the heart of the Rays order. D’Arnaud consistently finds his at-bats hitting anywhere between leadoff and cleanup, which is a gold mine for fantasy production. At age-30, the former top catching prospect is finally living up to his untapped potential, and all that it took was a clean bill of health.

D’Arnaud missed all but four games in 2018 and has just one season of more than 75 games since 2014 after a barrage of injuries has held him away from finding any consistency. Since joining the Rays on May 11, he’s posted top-10 numbers at the position in SLG (.486), OPS (.822), and wRC+ (116). D’Arnaud’s 52 RBI in this span lead all backstops while his 44 runs sit second only to J.T. Realmuto. He remains a safe bat to ride over the final month of the season especially with a favorable hitter-friendly schedule upcoming.

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) - 25% Owned

Jorge Alfaro is quietly continuing to put up a top-15 season in his first year with the Miami Marlins. In 106 games the 26-year-old has popped 14 round-trippers, 36 runs, 44 RBI and a respectable .265 BA as the club's everyday catcher. A gaudy 35.2% K-rate and 3.4% walk-rate limit his batting average, but when he does get lumber to the baseball, it’s as efficient as anyone. Alfaro’s outstanding 45.0% Hard Hit% lead all major league backstops, while his 90.8 MPH Exit Velocity sits comfortably in third, helping him compensate for his shoddy plate discipline skills.

Alfaro doesn’t fill out any individual fantasy category particularly well, but he’s become a reliable contributor across all 5x5 columns with the exception of his three stolen bases. The former Phillies prospect is in an excellent spot to keep producing with a six-game slate upcoming this week against the underwhelming pitching staffs of the Pirates and Royals. Two lefties are also on the schedule who Alfaro has punished to a commendable .297/.326/.451 slash line this season. Look for the numbers to keep piling up as the regular season wraps up despite playing on a below-average team


Streamers/Players to Watch

The catchers in this group are either in waiver wire limbo as they are likely scooped up in two-catcher and league-specific formats or they are worth streaming for this week depending on your league size. They are not ideal single mixed league targets unless you have a deep bench to stash one of these backstops. These bats, however, have a shot at returning significant value if everything breaks right.

Sean Murphy (C, OAK) - 5% Owned

The Oakland Athletics called up their third-best prospect Sean Murphy to help out behind the dish for their September playoff push. The 2016 third-round selection has been sidelined for the majority of the 2019 season due to knee surgery, but has impressed in 31 Triple-A games earning himself a top-45 MLB prospect ranking. He slashed .308/.386/.625 in Las Vegas with 10 homers and 30 RBI batting primarily out of the cleanup spot as he makes his case to receive steady at-bats at the major league level.

With the A’s currently in a Wild Card spot, the team will go with the player who is helping out the team the most instead of a big-league grooming experiment. Whether that turns out to be Murphy or Josh Phegley remains to be seen, but the former should get an opportunity to prove himself before long. Murphy already possesses a terrific defensive ability which isn’t as common with youngsters, and will have familiar chemistry with the club’s younger hurlers who have also been called up recently. If the 24-year-old can carve out some decent playing time, he could provide terrific value down the stretch.

Austin Allen (C, SD) - 0% Owned

Another catching prospect recently getting the call to the big leagues was Padres backstop Austin Allen. The 25-year-old has smashed Triple-A pitching this season with 21 homers, 67 RBI, and a .330 BA in 67 games played. He’s now hit 20 or more long balls in three-straight minor league campaigns, an impressive feat for any positional player. We know Allen can handle the bat, the only concern lies in how much playing time he’ll receive down the stretch.

With Francisco Mejia on the shelf for possibly the remainder of the campaign, Allen is now the primary backup for Austin Hedges. The journeyman has failed miserably at the plate once again this season with an abysmal .194/.262/.347 slash line in 85 games for the Friars. It’s been hard to knock Hedges out of top catching duties, however, with him sporting a position-leading 23 defensive runs saved (DRS). A best-case scenario would have a platoon situation moving forward with Allen’s left-handed bat getting the majority of starts against right-handers. Until we see how this timeshare shakes out, he’s a player to keep on your two-catcher league radar who can help with a few counting stats through September.


Two-Catcher League Options

This tier meshes catchers that may still be available in two-catcher leagues, as well as league specific setups. They may carry some single-catcher mixed-league value at some point, but for now, they can stay on your watchlist. They aren’t necessarily going to win you a category, but they won’t hurt your overall production either.

Victor Caratini (C, CHC) - 13% Owned

Until Wilson Contreras returns from the injured list, Victor Caratini will remain the top backstop for the Cubs. He’s batted like it as well with multi-hit games in four of his last six starts and a .288 BA in August with four big flies. The switch-hitter has also shown his versatility with starts coming at first base to keep his bat in the lineup, especially when a lefty takes the hill. Caratini holds a .308/.438/.500 slash line versus southpaws with a 148 wRC+, a number that ranks seventh-best across the major leagues.

Caratini also impresses in Statcast metrics with a 41.8% Hard Hit%, 91.3 MPH Exit Velocity and 10.1% Barrel%, all numbers that are just a shade lower than his teammate Contreras. His success this year is no fluke either after establishing himself as an elite hitter in the minors posting a career .332 BA and .920 OPS in 119 career Triple-A games. The 26-year-old failed to do much in his 76 games with the North Siders in 2018 but has nearly doubled his walk rate to 11.7% this season while showing an ability to hit the ball to all fields, something he did a lot of as a minor leaguer. Caratini makes a formidable option in two-catcher formats and is worth riding as long as he’s receiving regular at-bats.

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