The Cleveland Guardians depth chart at catcher has Bo Naylor at the top.
He might not be the best defensive catcher in the league, but he sure can hit and that’s what the team needs the most at this stage: offense.
However, the Guardians needed a backup.
To fill that position, they brought an old friend back: Austin Hedges.
The news has been public for at least a few days.
However, the team just made it official on Friday by announcing the corresponding roster move to accommodate Hedges.
“We have signed C Austin Hedges to a one-year Major League contract. To make room on the 40-man, we have designated 1B Alfonso Rivas for assignment. Welcome back, Hedgey!” they tweeted.
We have signed C Austin Hedges to a one-year Major League contract.
To make room on the 40-man, we have designated 1B Alfonso Rivas for assignment.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) December 15, 2023
If Naylor isn’t an elite defensive catcher, then Hedges certainly qualifies.
Between two teams last season, Hedges accumulated 11 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and 16.9 framing runs in 567 innings behind the plate.
Over 505.2 frames, Naylor had -2 DRS and 1.7 framing runs: decent, passable performance, but not elite by any means.
The difference on offense between the two is considerable, in favor of Naylor.
The talented youngster had a .809 OPS in the big leagues this past season, better than most of the catchers in the circuit.
Hedges, however, posted a .184/.234/.227 line in 212 plate appearances, which equals a horrible .585 OPS.
It’s fair to say that they both have their strengths, but the overall package clearly favors Naylor and that’s why he will be the starter.
Still, it never hurts to have an experienced backup who helps pitchers with his framing and game-calling skills, and that’s Hedges.
Too bad he is an offensive zero.