Giants' next catcher? Here are the options

November 5th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time in more than a decade, the Giants will have to prepare for life without behind the plate. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s next for San Francisco on the catching front now that Posey has retired following a remarkable 12-year career with the Giants.

Who are the Giants’ internal options to replace Posey?
Posey is in many ways irreplaceable, but the Giants have Joey Bart, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, waiting in the wings. Bart, 24, has been viewed as Posey’s heir apparent since being drafted by San Francisco with the No. 2 overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2018, and he spent most of this past season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he batted .294 with an .831 OPS and 10 home runs over 67 games.

“We have another item on the list,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “Although we’re fortunate to have one of the best catching prospects in baseball. We’re excited for Joey to get this opportunity.”

Veteran Curt Casali, who served as Posey’s backup in 2021, is also under team control for one more season and should now be a lock to be tendered a contract next month. Casali, who turns 33 next week, drew rave reviews from the Giants’ pitching staff for his defensive prowess and has a projected arbitration salary of $2 million for 2022, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

In addition to Bart, the Giants have two other promising young catchers in the pipeline: 2020 first-round Draft pick Patrick Bailey and Ricardo Genovés.

Bailey, 22, hit .265 with a .795 OPS and nine homers across three Minor League levels in his first full professional season in '21. The switch-hitting catcher is the club's No. 8 prospect and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s hitting .314 with an .842 OPS and one home run over 10 games.

Genovés, 22, hit .275 with an .812 OPS and 14 home runs across three Minor League levels and reached Triple-A Sacramento in 2021. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Genovés, the club's No. 18 prospect, will now be a strong candidate to be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster by Nov. 19 to be shielded from the Rule 5 Draft next month.

Is Bart ready to take the reins?
The Giants were forced to rush Bart to the big leagues after Posey elected to sit out the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, and Bart’s inexperience showed. After making his Major League debut last year, Bart hit .233 with no homers and 41 strikeouts over 103 at-bats and struggled to get on the same page with some of San Francisco's pitchers.

The Giants signed Casali last offseason to ensure that Bart could continue to develop at Triple-A Sacramento in 2021, and they believe the young backstop is closer to big league-ready now that he has one more year of upper-level experience under his belt. Bart appeared in only two games for the Giants this year, but his growth was apparent to Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler.

“He showed really good maturity when he came up,” Zaidi said. “I think even Kap and our staff talked about it. Just the game-calling and the awareness was better. He really executed game plans well the couple games he started for us. As you can see with a lot of young players, I think the game slowed down for him a little bit. It’s a shame that in one respect he didn’t get more of an opportunity, but it was also great to have the catchers that we did.”

Who are some external options the Giants could pursue?
Veterans Yan Gomes, Sandy León and Wilson Ramos will be among the catchers who are slated to hit free agency this winter. Willson Contreras might be available on the trade market, though the Cubs could try to lock up the two-time All-Star on a long-term extension.

It’s possible San Francisco could explore a reunion with Chadwick Tromp, who spent most of the past two seasons in the organization before being designated for assignment and getting claimed off waivers by the World Series champion Braves in September.

How will Posey’s decision affect the Giants’ payroll in 2022?
The Giants had signaled a willingness to exercise Posey’s $22 million club option for 2022, but the 34-year-old chose to retire to spend more time with his family and break away from the physical toll of playing the most punishing position in baseball. It’s unclear if Posey will still be owed his $3 million buyout, as the Giants are still in the process of working out a new deal to bring the seven-time All-Star into a new role in the organization.

With Posey’s contract off the books, the Giants should have even more financial flexibility to retain some of their other free agents, including Brandon Belt, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Kris Bryant.