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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 3


The catching position in fantasy baseball has become a dried-up talent pool in recent seasons. The 2019 season has pumped a few gallons of skill and fantasy competence back into the tank as we are entering some better weather here in mid-April. With early injuries at the position and some underperforming bats not impressing owners, it may be time to jump into the deep end to look for an upgrade.

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. If you were one of the advocates to punt the catching position to the late rounds of your draft, you've come to the right place to choose your next backstop. The good thing about taking a catcher late in drafts is that you can afford to cut ties early without any feeling of guilt that you wasted a valuable draft selection.

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. Depending on league size, these waiver options may or may not be available, but we’ll go through a few tiers of catchers to fit your specific need.

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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.

Josh Phegley (C, OAK) - 27% Owned

One of the hottest-hitting catchers currently in the league is the Athletics Josh Phegley. Over the last 10 days, he’s batting .375 with three homers, seven runs, and nine RBI. Nick Hundley started the season as the A’s primary catcher, but Phegley has usurped him getting the start in five of the last six games. The 31-year-old is yet to play in more than 75 games in a season as he’s battled injuries for the majority of his big league career.

This fact doesn’t make him a safe long-term option, but if you want to go with the hot bat, Phegley’s is your best bet right now. He currently holds a stellar 40.7% Hard Hit%, and he’s batting in a top-10 offense who will next face the back-end starters of the Astros rotation as well as the mediocre Blue Jays staff this coming weekend. Phegley is a strong defender as well, so even if the bat cools off, he’s still the best option for the A’s to roll out there as their primary backstop.

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) - 26% Owned

While there isn’t much attention drawn to the Miami Marlins, both in the baseball world and on the fantasy side of it, Jorge Alfaro is a player that everyone should be watching. The 25-year-old is off to a terrific 2019 batting .316 with three homers, five runs, and six RBI. These numbers may not jump off the page, but he’s currently the eighth-best backstop in fantasy.

Alfaro also gets volume, which isn’t easy to find on waivers these days. He’s started 11 of the team’s first 15 games, and this pace is assured for the duration of the season with no one on the roster comparable to his skill level. Alfaro has battled a lingering knee issue since the season began, but pain and soreness are all apart of the job, so this minor ailment isn’t worth fretting over. It also hasn’t affected his playing time or his overall game either making the young backstop an astute fantasy addition.

 

Streamers/Players to Watch

The catchers in this group are in waiver wire limbo as they are likely scooped up in two-catcher and league-specific formats. They are not ideal single mixed league targets unless you have a deep bench to stash one of these backstops. These bats, however, have an outside shot at returning top-10 value if everything breaks right.

Robinson Chirinos (C, HOU) - 25% Owned

Another catcher who combines volume and hitting prowess is Houston’s, Robinson Chirinos. He’s getting about two-thirds of the work behind the plate for the Astros, and he’s hitting a respectable .265 with a couple of home runs in the early going. He’s showed great discipline at the plate so far with a 14.6% BB%, and his 24.4% K-rate is over 8% lower than what it was in 2018.

Chirinos’ keen eye is encouraging to help his average stay above his .234 career rate, but his most admirable trait is that he has one of the best power bats that you’ll find on the waiver wire. He popped 18 homers a season ago in 113 games and 17 the year prior in just 88 games giving him an excellent opportunity to eclipse these numbers in 2019 with more expected at-bats. Chirinos is also apart of one of the deeper lineups in baseball making him a solid long-term asset in fantasy.

Mitch Garver (C, MIN) - 10% Owned

Mitch Garver has been tearing the cover off the ball of late. Over his last five starts, he’s 11-for-20 with three bombs and five RBI as he’s come out of nowhere to mash the baseball. The problem is that Garver’s starts haven’t come consistently in a timeshare with Jason Castro and Willians Astudillo. Castro is the sharpest defensively of the bunch and has been the benefactor of the majority of the starts for the Twins. Astudillo can hit, but he can also play third base which leaves Garver struggling to find at-bats.

When he’s found them, he’s impressed with a 50.0% Hard Hit% and mammoth 1.329 OPS as he's proven to have the distinct offensive advantage over Castro. Unless an injury strikes, Garver won’t have a chance to show his true potential and the bat who hit .268 a season ago and .298 in Triple-A. He’s worth rostering in two-catcher and AL-only leagues for the time being, but be ready to strike in deep mixed leagues if a more significant role becomes carved out.

 

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.

Christian Vazquez (C,BOS) - 4% Owned

In his new role as the primary catcher for the Red Sox, Christian Vazquez is off to the best start to a season in his career. While he’s only batting .195 on the year, his two homers, six runs, and six RBI are worth noting. Vazquez won’t provide huge totals in any category this season, but in a two-catcher league, he can provide some value with him taking his spot behind the plate three out of five days as a minimum.

This season could be the year that he eclipses the 100-game plateau for the first time in his career, and with that, his counting stats could see a new personal high. We should never count on stolen bases from a catcher, but Vazquez has 11 thefts in the last two years and one so far in the early going in 2019. This underrated “speed” is a nice bonus to a roto league even if he only swipes a handful of bags.

Austin Romine (C, NYY) - 2% Owned

If you have Gary Sanchez on your roster, there may be no one better to replace him than the actual man who will take over his spot in the Yankees lineup. After Sanchez landed on the shelf with a calf strain last week, Austin Romine has become the momentary number one catching option in New York. He missed a pair of games over the weekend after taking some foul balls off his mask on Friday but will be ready to roll for Tuesday's series against the Red Sox.

Romine is just 3-for-15 on the year including a home run but is a decent short-term fill-in option in a two-catcher league. Sanchez is expected back from the injured list around his April 21 due date, but with the team at home until then, there’s no better place to bat in the AL. This advantage may be like putting lipstick on a pig, but Romine did club 10 homers in 77 games a year ago, so it’s not out of the question that he adds on to his 2019 total this week.

More Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers


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