The Cleveland Guardians announced the return of backup catcher Austin Hedges for the 2024 season.
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, he is signing a one-year, $4 million contract to complement young thumper Bo Naylor in the Guardians’ catching plans.
Austin Hedges to Guardians. $4M.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2023
From 2020 to 2022, Hedges played for the Guardians.
In Cleveland, he showed the kind of defensive excellence that helped him build a reputation as being elite at most aspects of the game behind the plate.
However, he also failed to showcase the power potential he had shown earlier in his career in San Diego.
With the Guardians, Hedges hit a meager .169/.228/.274 with a .502 OPS in parts of three seasons.
He started 2023 with the Pittsburgh Pirates but found himself with the Texas Rangers in the second half.
Fans in general didn’t love the move because they point out that for a team with offensive deficiencies, Hedges is just not a fit.
Exactly what cleveland needs, another player who can’t hit whatsoever
— pain (@MVPWigginsSZN) December 10, 2023
Love Hedges, but with Naylor & Bethancourt, feel like that $4M could’ve gone to a potential OF option…@FranmilsEyebrow
— Bryce Layton ✞ (@BryceLayton) December 10, 2023
Shortly after this tweet, it was announced that Christian Bethancourt was headed to the Miami Marlins for cash.
The backup catching gig in the Guardians should be Hedges’ to lose.
Considering that the Guardians already have the power-hitting Bo Naylor at catcher, bringing in a defensive-minded backup is actually not a bad idea.
The thing with Hedges is that his offense has become so bad that the Guardians need to watch who they play in the lineup to avoid making the bottom part of it so vulnerable.
All things considered, however, there are some fans who are happy to see Hedges back.
The framing god is back in his home
— Everything Shohei (@ItsShoTime17) December 10, 2023
Hell yes! I knew they were missing him in the clubhouse so much last year.
— Tony W (@GalegHelross) December 10, 2023
Hedges won’t win you a game with his bat, but he can help mentor Naylor behind the plate and the clubhouse likes him.