The Cleveland Guardians made moves to bolster the catcher position ahead of the 2024 season.
They are bringing in an old friend for another stint with the franchise.
“Guardians, pending a physical, will make Austin Hedges signing official in a few days. To open a spot for Hedges, they’ve traded another catcher, Christian Bethancout, to Miami for cash. Officially the roster is at 39,” Guardians insider Paul Hoynes tweeted.
Guardians, pending a physical, will make Austin Hedges signing official in a few days. To open a spot for Hedges, they've traded another catcher, Christian Bethancout, to Miami for cash. Officially the roster is at 39.
— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) December 10, 2023
Hedges played for the Guardians from 2020 to 2022.
He spent the 2023 campaign with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Texas Rangers, and hit a hideous.184/.234/.227 with a 24 wRC+ (100 is considered league-average performance).
Hedges’ bat is well worse than the league average and is a liability even for a catcher.
However, his defensive reputation and ability behind the plate will give him a good foundation for value, and he is a good backup as a result of this.
The Guardians will be entering the 2024 campaign with a bat-first catcher starting: Bo Naylor.
Naylor hit a cool .237/.339/.470 with 11 home runs in 67 games and 230 plate appearances.
His wRC+ was a very solid 124.
Naylor represents much-needed offense for the Guardians so he figures to play a lot.
Hedges will be there to be the backup if he makes the team and his presence could also help Naylor going forward.
The Guardians would love it if Hedges could mentor the young apprentice at a crucial position.
It might not be the explosive bat some fans are waiting for, but the addition of Hedges to the roster is a solid move by the Guardians.