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Trade Targets: Backstops

Let’s get ignorant!

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Like yer Fugeeboy Wickliffe Jean said earlier, the Reds need to be kicking a few bucks into the pot before the end of the month. They can’t afford to check down. Peer pressure is a bitch.

The catch, of course, (foreshadowing pun!) is that the Reds are at least decent at just about every position on the roster. With no real glaring weakness, the only gains to be made would be inherently marginal. A marginal win here or there is absolutely going to be the difference between making the post-season and missing out in this year’s street brawl in the NL Central, so it is totally worth it. It’s just that it will take some work to determine where upgrades are worth making.

So that’s what this here thing is about. We are gonna do all the scouting legwork for the Reds’ front office. They didn’t ask us to, but they are welcome all the same.

One position where an upgrade is perhaps reasonable is at catcher. Tucker Barnhart is the incumbant starter after three solid seasons, a Gold Glove, and a better-than-average on-base percentage. Backing him up is Curt Casali, who has slashed .265/.343/.412 since coming from Tampa Bay last summer.

The problem is that Barnhart is currently on the IL with a strained oblique. But even when healthy, he has been sickly. He is slashing .191/.290/.315 in 187 PAs so far this season and some of the shine is off that Gold Glove behind the dish.

Now, to be clear, I’m not recommending the Reds go out and find a replacement. I think it would be a reasonable course of action to hang tight with Barnhart and Casali. Barnhart is surely better than he has been these last few months. Maybe this oblique injury has been bothering him for months and he only recently conceded to the IL. Maybe he comes back and is his old usual self.

But this bloghole has never heeded to a take sign in its 73 years of existence. We wanna see some ACTION. Swing the bat, Meat!

So who’s out there?

Omar Narvaez - Seattle Mariners

Narvaez is worth whatever it takes to get him simply to hear Thom Brennaman call him “Omar Navarez” for the next four years. And Mariners’ GM Jerry DiPoto has his iPhone pertually set to “TRADE” so you know he is down to get funky. On top of all that though, he’s an impressive guy.

Narvaez was acquired last winter from the White Sox in exchange for Alex Colome. He was never really a prospect, but he has quietly been one of the better hitting catchers of the last few years. For the 2018 and ‘19 seasons, he has slashed .284/.366/.456, good for an OPS+ of 124. He is, admittedly, a pretty lousy defensive catcher. He doesn’t handle base-stealers very well and his pitch framing is weak, but a lot can be forgiven when you hit like that.

Considering how adamant the Reds seem to be about getting controllable long-term players, Narvaez seems a perfect fit. He won’t be a free agent until 2023. And though he is good, he isn’t exactly a franchise cornerstone kinda player. The Mariners seem to be tearing the entire house to the ground and Jerry DiPoto is going to trade everyone. So it seems likely that he is available.

Pedro Severino - Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles, like the Mariners, are on pace to give up 1,000 runs this season. And worse than that, next year doesn’t look a damn bit better. And like Narvaez, Pedro Severino has been a pleasant bright spot amid the blackest night of his team’s hellseason. And like Narvaez, he isn’t exactly a franchise cornerstone upon which they can anchor their rebuild. Also samesies, he is not yet arbitration-eligible.

Severino toiled for years with the Washington Nationals, never really finding his footing. They designated him for assignment this spring and he was picked up by the O’s. He has taken over primary catching duties and has hit for an impressive level of power, slugging .479 in 190 PAs. It might be a fluke, but maybe not.

Wilson Ramos - New York Mets

Ramos has been one of the best and most consistent catchers in baseball for like eight years. He has never been great (his best was 2016 when he posted 3+ WAR and got some down-ballot MVP votes), but you can count on one hand the catchers who have been demonstrably better in his time. He earned himself a two-year, $19 million contract this past winter. But it is the Mets, who are the Roland Emmerich of sports franchises: big budgets, Biblical levels of destruction, an embarrassing lack of technical proficiency, and tremendously entertaining in spite of themselves.

Ramos is owed $11.5 million through next season with a team option for 2021, which is kind of expensive but not prohibitively so. I’m sure the Mets would not require significant remuneration in a trade, and they are dumb enough that maybe they would give the Reds Jeff McNeil, too.

Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants