The Twins have made a formal offer to free-agent catcher Christian Vazquez, reports Darren Wolfson of SKOR North Radio and 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said early in the offseason that his club hoped to bring in a catcher to split time with 25-year-old Ryan Jeffers — ideally one who can provide some offense against right-handed pitching, given the righty-swinging Jeffers’ stout .263/.344/.450 career batting line against lefties (which includes a .306/.377/.532 slash in 2022). The market is quite thin on lefty-hitting catchers, however, and the Twins aren’t necessarily interested in a strict platoon anyhow. Both Falvey and GM Thad Levine have spoken of a more even distribution of playing time between their two primary catchers next season, whoever the new addition might be.
Vazquez, 32, would give the Twins a strong defensive option who’s elevated his offensive profile in recent seasons as well. The longtime Red Sox backstop won a World Series ring following a summer trade to the Astros this season and hits free agency having batted .271/.318/.416 over the past four seasons combined. He’s thwarted 34% of stolen-base attempts against him in his career to date, been credited with a hefty 51 Defensive Runs Saved in parts of eight MLB seasons, and has drawn plus framing marks from publicly available metrics via Statcast, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.
Now that Willson Contreras is off the board on a five-year deal with the Cardinals, Vazquez stands out as the top catcher on the free-agent market. (The Twins, for what it’s worth, did not pursue Contreras, according to Wolfson.) The trade market offers a handful of viable alternatives, headlined by Oakland’s Sean Murphy and Toronto’s Danny Jansen, though there’s been at least some mention of the Braves giving consideration to trading from their own stockpile of catching talent. (In that scenario, backup Manny Pina would be the likeliest to go.)
While Contreras removed the top name from the free-agent market for catchers, he also removed a viable landing spot for Vazquez, who’d been linked to the Cardinals in recent rumors. The Twins will still have competition, as Vazquez is said to be of interest to the Diamondbacks, Guardians, Padres and Giants — and other clubs are surely in play. Both Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic have previously suggested that Vazquez could command at least a three-year contract in free agency. The Twins have a projected payroll around $98MM, which sits well shy of last year’s Opening Day mark of $135MM.
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