Angels Free Agency Primer: Catchers

Ever since the departure of Bengie Molina, catcher has been something of a quagmire for the Angels. Sometimes they have too much defense and not enough offense, sometimes it is the other way around and sometimes they have both yet it is still a problem. Going into this off-season, the catching depth chart definitely leans towards the offensive end of the spectrum, which probably makes the Great and Mighty Sosh none too happy with options. Will the Angels learn to live with what they already have or will they look to bring in a catcher that can actually, you know, catch?

What they already have: Chris Iannetta (111 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR), Hank Conger (99 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR)

If Arte Moreno loses his mind… he'll make Jerry DiPuppeto sign Brian McCann to a nine-figure contract. What could possibly go wrong with signing a 30-year old catcher with shoulder problems whose offensive numbers are starting to slip? McCann is a very good player and would surely make the Angels better in the short-term, but his manifest destiny is to be an albatross contract in three years. In other words, he is perfect for the Angels.

If the Angels are smart and aggressive… they'll trade Chris Iannetta for salary relief and bullpen help. Iannetta and his OBP skills are attractive and not something the Angels should readily part with, but he is also coming off a dreadful defensive year. Meanwhile, the Halos have Hank Conger who is better defensively (though not significantly so), more consistent offensively and, above all, cheaper. The Halos could hand the catching reins over to Conger on a more full-time basis without losing much production offensively while making up for it through his defensive, move Iannetta and the remaining $10.5 million on his contract to give themselves additional financial flexibility to address the pitching staff and bench without impacting their ability to stay under the luxury tax line. Ink a quality defensive catcher like Kurt Suzuki to hold down the fort whenever Conger gets the yips, and the Halos will basically get very similar production from their catchers and have some extra money to fill out the roster.

If the Halos want to troll their own fans… they'll sign A.J. Pierzynski because FUCK YOU, that's why.

If the Angels are savvy and conservative… they'll stand pat. Conger and Iannetta aren't a good defensive tandem with Hank's framing prowess really being their lone strength, but you could do a lot worse than what they bring offensively. Iannetta can't hit for average, strikes out a ton and has long power droughts, but that 17.0% walk rate is swoon-worthy. Meanwhile Conger gives them a left-handed bat with pop to platoon with Iannetta and he is entering his age 26 season, so there is still some projection left in a bat that was highly thought of not so long ago. It is an imperfect pairing and one that probably doesn't make Mike Scioscia very happy given his defensive demands, but there are plenty of teams who would love to consider Iannetta and Conger an upgrade over their current situation.

What the Angels will probably do is… make either player available but only for the right price. Neither player is anywhere near untouchable, but neither is a problem for the Angels to keep around. This isn't a situation where one of them needs to go, so Dipoto has the luxury of only moving one of his catchers if the right deal falls in his lap.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.