The Cleveland Guardians should be able to afford to go after free agent catcher Wilson Contreras. It seems unlikely he’d warrant much more than his $9.625 million contract with the Chicago Cubs in 2022. Contreras isn’t a great hitter, only a career .256 hitter, but he’s nearly a 80-90 points better than Austin Hedges and he has 20-home run power. That will make him an instant upgrade.
Catchers are in a weird position, where most of the “good” offensive catchers are usually very mediocre compared to the other positions’ best hitters. While Wilson Contreras is on the list, we’re really just looking for “anyone better than Austin Hedges”. Tucker Barnhart hits about 56 points better than Hedges and we’ll take it.
Let’s say the team doesn’t want to shell out for a free agent because they’re going to go with Bo Naylor in the next season or two. If that’s the case, bringing back Roberto Perez makes all the sense in the world. He’s not a good hitter by any means, but while Hedges was a solid defensive catcher, Perez was. At least, he was in his prime. He’s not ideal but if you’re just looking to get a year between 2022 and 2024 when you think Naylor might be ready, then Perez makes sense.