MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Catching Needs
The Arizona Diamondbacks still need to address their need for catching as they continue to make trades during the MLB Hot Stove season. After trading Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs, the Diamondbacks are left with Tuffy Gosewich as their lone catcher from last season. They will need to get additional catching help through trades or free agency, but there are not many choices left out there. As far as available free agents, J.P. Arencibia, John Buck, Chris Gimenez and Nick Hundley are not considered everyday catchers. A. J. Pierzynski could be available, but he will be 38 when the season starts and if they are interested in him, they would have to decide his value because he is considered high-maintenance.
The Diamondbacks do have several other catchers in the organization, with Matt Pagnozzi and Blake Lalli at AAA Reno, but they are both considered career minor league players. Mark Thomas who was signed in 2013 from the Rays is currently in AA, but he is also seen as a career minor league player or a backup MLB catcher.
The Diamondbacks do believe that Peter O’Brien, who they obtained from the Yankees, will be their starting catcher in 2016 and he might see some action with the Diamondbacks during the 2015 season. The Diamondbacks might overlook O’Brien’s poor defensive skills, especially his throwing, and be willing to live with some of his defensive struggles, in order to get his power into the lineup. He did hit 34 homers between High- and Double-A in 2014 and showed some “POP” in the Arizona Fall League.
The Diamondbacks did select catcher Oscar Hernandez from the Rays in MLB’s Rule 5 draft back on December 11th. The 21 year-old Hernandez hit .249 with nine home runs, 18 doubles and 63 RBI in 94 games for Class A Bowling Green in 2014. He has played in 292 minor-league games, but still needs time to develop; look for him to be at AAA Reno. As a side note on Hernandez, he must stay on the MLB active 40 man roster or be returned to the Rays.
Gosewisch will need to remain the Diamondback’s backup catcher for the 2015 season no matter who they end up signing as a starter. That is where he is best suited. In his 55 games since making the Majors at age 30, Gosewisch has shown very limited offense, with a .213 batting average. The Diamondbacks might decide at Spring Training that he deserves a chance to start, but they would still need a capable backup.
In closing, the Diamondbacks need to look for a short-term replacement for the starting catcher position this season, through a trade or free-agency, so they can give Peter O’Brien enough time at AAA Reno to develop into a catcher that can play in the major leagues. If O’Brien is able to hit for power at the MLB level, we’ll be able to forgive some bad throws and leading to opposing team’s stolen bases.
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