It's about that time of the season when fantasy managers will start to cut bait on underperforming catchers and look to the waiver wire for some replacements. Whether you're in a shallower single-catcher league seeking a short-term upgrade, or a two-catcher league looking to replace a guy like Jesus Montero, RotoBaller has got you covered with a deeper look at some fringe backstop options:
1. Jason Castro (HOU) – We listed the former Stanford Cardinal on our Ultimate Waiver Wire Watchlist after a 2-HR game Saturday against Oakland, and the Houston catcher continues to rake. Over the last the past two weeks, he’s the 2nd-ranked catcher (Evan Gattis is #1) on ESPN’s player rater, and he's registered a 483/.556/.862 triple slash with 3 HR in 29 AB. Sure, the sample size is very small, and the Astros’ offense is no juggernaut (21st in runs scored), but the 2008 first-round pick is getting regular PT, typically hitting third, and is in the top ten in the league for hits and home runs by catchers . His .357 BABIP will certainly drop, but the rest of his numbers are mostly sustainable. Castro's ownership has increased over 13% since Sunday's power breakout, but it still sits below 20%. For owners struggling to find reliable production from their backstop, I would take Castro before investing in any of John Buck, Ryan Doumit, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila.
2. Yan Gomes (CLE) – Not to be outdone by Castro, Mr. Gomes has put up a healthy .333/.364/.810 line in 21 AB over the past two weeks. His 0.15 BB/K ratio isn’t pretty, and playing time is not guaranteed for the Indians’ backup catcher, but playing in the AL, Carlos Santana might get a few more days DH’ing or at 1B which could create ABs for Gomes. He’s a good source of power (.338 ISO in 2013, and historical ISO regularly above .200 in the minors), and as long as you don’t get penalized for hitter strikeouts, owners in deep or two-catcher leagues should consider taking a flier on the free-swinger.
And then there’s one repeat offender who I’ll mention just in case his return slipped under your radar...
3. Yasmani Grandal (SD) – We've written about the young San Diego catcher in this space recently, but this should go as a reminder that Grandal was reinstated from the restricted list after his 50-game suspension, and he started Tuesday night. Grandal wasn't tearing the cover off the ball in his 9 “rehab” AAA starts (.306/.342/.389, .083 ISO)-- it could well take a little time to get his legs under him and his timing down. Nevertheless, I fully expect that he will overtake the slumping Nick Hundley before long, and provide you with above-average catcher production for a 14+-team mixed or NL-only league. It’s unclear how much the PEDs may have helped his solid rookie campaign, but I’m very willing to roll the dice on the sophomore Padre who is owned in just 11% of leagues.
One final catcher note: Don’t necessarily give up on Atlanta’s Evan Gattis, whose ownership is down to 57%. The strong return of Brian McCann isn't making it easy to get Gattis’s bat into the lineup, but he’s still finding a way to produce in a backup role, pinch hitting, and DH-ing in AL parks. Even with part-time ABs, Gattis’s power numbers are valuable (he currently leads all catchers with 12 HR), and you avoid the total drain on your BA you might endure elsewhere.
Feel free to email me with any specific questions at RotoHawk@ymail.com or follow me on twitter @Roto_hawk. Until next time, Dominate.
For owners looking to stay current on catchers to target, remember to check out our Ultimate Waiver Wire Watch List (updated daily) where you can find great updates and feedback on catchers and all position players from the staff here at RotoBaller.com.