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Catcher Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 1


It’s time to talk about the most outcasted position in fantasy baseball, the catcher. Although we may not like it, backstops still matter for the makeup of our rosters. The draft strategy for this position has remained the same over the past few years, get an elite option in the mid-rounds or avoid entirely. The focus on this article isn’t to give you options to supplant your top-tier catcher but to provide you with the choice of replacing that backstop you selected with one of your final picks.

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. With only a handful of games played so far by each team, we need to temper our impulses on slow starts as well as hot-hitting debuts. 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 amount 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 not be available, but we’ll go through a few tiers of catchers to fit your specific need.

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Tier One Catchers (30-50% Owned)

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.

Yan Gomes (C, WSH) - 39% Owned

Yan Gomes had one of the better seasons at the catcher position in 2018. He batted .266 with 16 HR, 52 R, and 48 RBI in 112 games for the Indians, good enough for a top-six finish at the position. The bad news is that Gomes is likely to remain in a 50/50 timeshare with Kurt Suzuki this season behind the plate with the Nationals. This situation isn't ideal for fantasy purposes, but Gomes has proven before to be productive as a top catching option despite a limited amount of games. He's batted in the sixth spot so far in his two games with the Nats and should be able to accumulate stellar run and RBI numbers in that deep lineup.

Tucker Barnhart (C, CIN) - 32% Owned

Tucker Barnhart is more of a quantity over quality play for your fantasy squad. He had the third-most plate appearance among backstops last season and is the definite number one catcher on the Reds depth chart. Barnhart batted a respectable .248 last season, and he also chipped in with 10 big flys, 50 R, and 46 RBI. The 28-year-old also hits in a formidable lineup in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, so you might see an improvement on those 2018 numbers this year.

 

Tier Two Catchers (15-30% Owned)

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) - 26% Owned

One of the more underrated power-hitting backstops in the big leagues is Robinson Chirinos. He clubbed 17 home runs in 2017, 18 in '18, so it's only fitting he one-ups last years number once again this season. Like most catchers, he won't help you in batting average as he carries a .233 career average into this season, but he still managed to finish as the seventh-best at his position a year ago. Chirinos moves to a superior lineup and ballpark this year in Houston, so it's completely plausible that he can move even higher up the fantasy catching ranks. So far, he's split time evenly with teammate Max Stassi, but Chirinos will be on the strong side of a 60/40 platoon this season as a minimum.

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA) - 16% Owned

After getting dealt in the J.T. Realmuto trade, Jorge Alfaro now has a clear path to consistent playing time with his new squad. Despite playing in only 108 games a season ago, the 25-year-old still managed to club 10 homers with 35 R and 37 RBI with the Phillies. He batted a crisp .262 as he finished as the 16th-best catcher in 2018. Even on an underwhelming Marlins team Alfaro still carries plenty of fantasy value. He's already 2-for-6 in the early going with a homer and three RBI as the team has shown some promise with their young upcoming stars. Alfaro may not repeat the .262 batting average with his 36.6% K% that he held a year ago, but he should amass some strong counting numbers with an everyday role.

 

Tier Three Catchers (<15% Owned)

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.

Omar Narvaez (C, SEA) - 7% Owned

Another backstop switching teams this year is Omar Narvaez. He had a quality season in 2018 as he batted .275 with nine homers, 30 R, and 30 RBI in 97 games with the Chicago White Sox. Now a member of the Mariners, the 27-year-old will get the lion's share of at-bats as the team's catcher with the team just recently picking up the uninspiring Tom Murphy to be his backup. Narvaez has gotten off to a hot start this season as he's already launched a pair of long balls to go along with five runs and five RBI. He's also batted as high as fifth in the M's lineup which has shown its muscles early and often so far in 2019. He's in a great spot this season to have a career year.

Austin Hedges (C, SD) - 7% Owned

The catcher receiving all the hype this offseason in San Diego was youngster Francisco Mejia, but it has been Austin Hedges getting the nod behind the plate. Hedges has started in four of the team's first five games as the Padres are prioritizing defense and handling of the pitching staff ahead of more offense in their daily lineup. The club has a fairly potent lineup even with Hedges occupying a spot, so it's fair to assume this will be the sort of timeshare moving forward. Hedges is a batting average drain but he can provide solid power numbers as he hit 18 in 2017, and 14 in 2018 in only 91 games. He's the clear-cut defensive option, and if he holds his own at the plate this season, it'll be difficult to take him out of the lineup on a regular basis.

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