Nick Hundley

MLB free agency: A's best remaining options for true starting catcher


MLB free agency: A's best remaining options for true starting catcher

The A's signed Chris Herrmann to a one-year, $1 million contract at the MLB Winter Meetings earlier this month, not long after they re-signed Josh Phegley to a one-year, $1.075 million deal, so right now, they're Oakland's two catchers.

While there's a chance the A's could enter the season with that Herrmann-Phegley platoon, they'd ideally still like to add a true starting catcher. So, let's examine the best remaining options on the free agency market:

Yasmani Grandal

Grandal is the last available "top-tier" catcher available, and he's expected to land a four-year contract in the range of $60 million, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman. Obviously, that's well out of Oakland's price range, especially for a below-average defensive catcher such as Grandal.

The 30-year-old slashed .241/.349/.466 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he had a horrendous postseason, both offensively and defensively. That could cost him some money on his next contract, which still should be hefty.

Jonathan Lucroy

Lucroy, who spent last season in Oakland, is the A's top choice, but the sides are nowhere near an agreement. Heyman reported the team offered the 32-year-old a one-year deal worth about $4 million, but Lucroy doesn't want to take a pay cut from last year's $6.5 million salary.

In his one season with the A's, Lucroy slashed an underwhelming .241/.291/.325 with just four homers and 51 RBI, but he did a tremendous job with Oakland's pitching staff, especially after all the injuries hit.

Matt Wieters

A four-time All-Star, Wieters' production has dropped off sharply the last two seasons. He recorded a slash line of .238/.330/.374 with eight home runs and 50 RBI last year in Washington. Still, at just 32 years old, there's a chance Wieters could regain his 2011-to-2016 form, or at least get close to that level.

Wieters also is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, and his defense remains above average. He'll probably receive at least $5 million, and if he's willing to take that kind of deal, he could be a nice fit in Oakland.

Martin Maldonado

Maldonado won't wow you with his bat, but he's as good defensively as any catcher in baseball. The former Gold Glove winner threw out a ridiculous 49 percent of attempted base stealers last season to lead MLB.

Maldonado, 32, slashed .225/.276/.351 with nine homers and 44 RBI in 119 games last year between the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros. Heyman projects Maldonado to land a two-year, $16 million deal, which seems unreasonably high for a defensive catcher, though he's unlikely to accept a one-year contract, making him unlikely to wear the green and gold.

Nick Hundley

Hundley has quietly put together four consecutive quality seasons between the Colorado Rockies and the Giants. The 35-year-old posted a .241/..298/.408 slash line with 10 home runs and 31 RBI in 96 games for the Giants last year.

While Hundley can handle the bat, his defense is subpar. He threw out just 21 percent of attempted base stealers last season, well below the league average. Still, Oakland could use his offense, especially if he costs under $3 million, as Heyman predicted.

Devin Mesoraco

After a breakout season in 2014, Mesoraco has struggled to stay healthy. The 30-year-old did manage to play 84 games last season between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets, slashing .221/.303/.398 with 11 homers and 33 RBI.

Mesoraco still has some pop in his bat, but he's a defensive liability. Last season, he threw out just 21 percent of attempted base stealers.

Heyman expects Mesoraco to receive between $2 million and $4.5 million on a one-year deal. That could make him a nice low-risk option for the A’s if Lucroy doesn’t re-sign.

Why Giants' versatility push could make Nick Hundley reunion difficult


Why Giants' versatility push could make Nick Hundley reunion difficult

LAS VEGAS -- In his first month on the job, oresident of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made it clear that he'd like the Giants to be much more versatile. That vision even extends to a position not usually known for flexibility.

As the Giants search for a backup to catcher Buster Posey, they’re looking for players who also can handle other positions. In Los Angeles, Zaidi had catchers Austin Barnes, who regularly started at second base, and Kyle Farmer, who was an option to start at third.

“We’re in the market for a backup catcher, and if that backup catcher is a multi-positional option, that’s an advantage,” Zaidi said Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “I would expect us to do more of that and prioritize those kinds of players going forward.

That’s not a great sign for Nick Hundley, the Giants' backup catcher the past two seasons. Hundley hasn’t been out of the squat since 2009, when he played one inning in left field. Aramis Garcia, the only current non-Posey catcher on the Giants' 40-man roster, played a solid first base down the stretch last season, which should help his cause.

[RELATED: Zaidi explains why Strickland, Hernandez were let go]

The Giants haven't ruled out a reunion with Hundley, who has signed consecutive one-year deals with the team and would like to return. Zaidi’s desire for versatility goes beyond which glove you wear. He's also big on platoons, which helps Hundley.

“He hits left-handed pitching very well and is a real leader on the team, so that’s certainly an option for us as we’re looking at a catcher and maybe two catchers for the depth chart,” Zaidi said of Hundley.

Hundley had a .828 OPS and seven homers against left-handed pitchers last season. The staff could decide that the lineup's best look against the division's many left-handers is putting Hundley behind the plate and moving Posey to first more often.

MLB rumors: Giants to sign catcher Cameron Rupp to minor-league contract


MLB rumors: Giants to sign catcher Cameron Rupp to minor-league contract

The Giants' depth chart behind catcher Buster Posey reportedly is taking shape. 

San Francisco agreed to a minor-league contract with Cameron Rupp, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training, Heyman reported. 

Rupp, 30, last played in the big leagues in 2017. He hit .217 in 331 plate appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies, and posted a .299 on-base percentage and .417 slugging percentage. He spent the entirety of last season in Triple-A, slashing .223/.320/.425. 

The veteran conceivably could break camp with the Giants, depending upon Posey’s health. The 31-year-old is recovering from season-ending hip surgery, but is still expected to be ready by the start of spring training. 

Rupp could compete for the backup job, but he'll have an uphill battle ahead of him to unseat Aramis Garcia after the 25-year-old's standout September. Barring a Giants reunion with free-agent catcher Nick Hundley, Rupp figures to be third in line behind Posey and Garcia. 

With the MLB Winter Meetings just around the corner, the status quo could change in a hurry.