The San Francisco Giants are in true limbo behind the plate. Organizationally, they have one of the better catch situations in baseball. On the one hand, they have a proven franchise legend that is still under contract Buster Posey. He wasn’t just the backbone of three, count them, three World Series title, but he’s a classmate and a fan favorite. In its heyday it was the Platonic ideal of a franchise catcher. Admittedly, he is on the retreat. The last season was the first since 2011 in which the then 32-year-old did not become an all-star team. It has developed from a power pack with 130 starts behind the plate to a real timeshare type with 1
At the other end of the spectrum, the Giants are blessed with two of the best prospects in baseball. Joey BartBaseball America is the second best choice in the 2018 draft and the second best perspective in all of baseball. Then, with the 13th election in this year’s draft, they snatched up the best NCAA catcher available Patrick Bailey.
So, yes, big picture, the giants have an enviable capture corps. But they have to set the position for 2020, and it will be a little difficult there. 21-year-old Bailey has no chance of jumping straight from college to the majors. He needs time in the professional ball to develop. Bart is closer, but all signs indicate that the Giants want to give him more time, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’s close, played in 22 games at Double-A last year and raked in .316 / .368 / .544. But a talent like Bart is worth the wait, and while he might be ready sometime this season, the Giants are unlikely to compete against each other. They don’t want to end the first part of his career under less than ideal conditions.
Enter Russell Martin? Schulman gave Martin’s name as a possibility and noticed this Justin Turner campaigned for the veteran to return to the Dodgers recently. Even in part-time, the respected Martin would surely make sense. The 37-year-old backstop proved that he played a role in an ML club last season in the league’s leading Dodgers. Baseball operations president Farhan Zaidi said the giants need to evaluate their internal and external options, and if nothing else, they’ll likely need someone in the camp just to catch the jugs.
Without him, the giants watch Chadwick Tromp, Tyler Heineman, and Rob Brantly as the top options from their player pool. Together they have 464 Big League record appearances (429 from Brantly, 11 from Heineman). The 30-year-old Brantly is by far the most experienced of the three, but he hasn’t seen a major time with the majors since 2017. With the rebuilt Giants, they’re probably most concerned about their ability to handle jugs rather than contributions on the plate – that’s the best argument for persecuting a veterinarian like Martin.
There are catchers that you could purchase through trade, but with 60-man player pools, catchers meet a very special need, and player movement has never been so complicated. Still, they were able to hire the Rockies Elias Diaz or the rangers for Blake Swihart, Tim Federowicz, or Nick Ciuffo. These are just options from teams in their regional pool, because here, too, player movement is no longer easy. For these reasons, Martin is probably the best external option.
The Giants support Posey in his decision and will continue to work with Bart and Bailey to prepare them for their big league debuts. Maybe Bart will find a way to prove himself ready in the Intrasquad game. Or maybe one of Tromp, Heineman or Brantly takes the opportunity. What we know for sure, the Giants have 60 games in the 2020 season and will need a catcher for everyone.