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Could Miami Be in the Market for Catching?

With Jorge Alfaro expected to be the team’s primary backstop in 2021 despite some major red flags, the team has various avenues it could explore on the free agent catching market.

Boston Red Sox v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

If you’ve been with us all offseason, you know our thoughts on Jorge Alfaro. The Miami backstop, while possessing true-blue raw power in his bat, has some questionable tendencies regarding plate discipline.

As of right now, the team expects to have Chad Wallach as their backup catcher entering the 2021 season, and though most teams don’t necessarily expect much contributions offensively from their second-string backstop, Wallach has played just 34 games in two seasons with Miami.

Should the team be hesitant on allotting the full-time backup reigns to Wallach, several cost-effective options are available for the taking to supplement Alfaro in the catching tandem.

In our previous perusing of Alfaro, we noted options the team could potentially pursue in free agency, with the likes of Alex Avila, Jeff Mathis, and James McCann all being among the bevy of free agent backstops the teams could implore on. However, with news breaking of McCann’s 4-year, $40.6 million deal with the division rival New York Mets, Miami will be forced to look elsewhere should adding a veteran backstop be a priority this offseason.

Tyler Flowers could make sense for the club given his familiarity with the NL East, per his five seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Flowers enjoyed the two best offensive seasons of his career with Atlanta in 2016 and ‘17, finishing with a 109 and 115 OPS+, respectively. In 2020, the 12-year veteran hit just .217 in 22 games, but managed a more respectable .325 on-base percentage across 80 plate appearances. Flowers also ranked inside the top 25 in pitch framing, per baseball savant.

Another name of note is Kurt Suzuki, who, like Flowers, has experience in the NL East, playing for both the aforementioned Braves and the Washington Nationals, a team he won a World Series with in 2019.

Just one year removed from a modest .264/.324/.486 slash line, Suzuki and Alfaro could make for a dynamic power tandem behind the plate, as the former averaged 16 home runs a season from 2017-2019. Like Alfaro though, Suzuki’s veteran leadership and solid bat are offset by the fact that his defense is lacking at this stage in his career, with -19 DRS (defensive runs saved) since the start of 2019 along with seven consecutive seasons of below average caught stealing rates.

The recently non-tendered Curt Casali may be someone new GM Kim Ng takes a flyer on, and for good reason. In just 2085 innings behind the plate - spanning 284 games - Casali has 12 DRS, a marker of great defensive aptitude.

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Offensively, Casali’s overall slash of .230/.316/.413 is nothing to write home about, but since the start of 2018, the former Tampa Bay Ray owns a .345 on base and 103 OPS+ over 187 games played, or a little more than a full season worth of contests.

The great thing about these and many of other available catchers on the free agent market is that they won’t cost much for a team with a projected opening day payroll of just $57 million.

Who else could you see the Marlins pursuing to form a catching tandem in 2021?