Over the next month, MLB.com will roll out weekly division-by-division breakdowns of each position group, beginning this week with catchers.
Below is a compilation of the teams deemed by MLB.com beat reporters to have the best catching situation, along with a link to the full team-by-team analysis for each division.
AL East: Yankees
Gary Sánchez had an up-and-down 2019 season on his way to earning his second American League All-Star selection. He led all big league catchers with 34 homers, but was limited to 106 games due to left calf and left groin injuries. While those offensive numbers represented a rebound from a dismal '18 campaign in which he batted .186, Sánchez's defensive struggles remain a hot topic. The 27-year-old backstop saw 37 passed balls or wild pitches on his watch while committing 15 errors -- most among Major League catchers. Despite Sánchez's defensive and durability concerns, he remains one of the top offensive catchers in the game and should play a key role in the Yankees' bid for a second straight division title. More »
AL Central: White Sox
It's only fitting that one of baseball's most improved teams this offseason is lauded for having the best catching tandem in the AL Central. The White Sox made one of the first major splashes of the offseason when they signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal in November. Grandal is coming off a career year with the Brewers in which he notched career highs in homers (28), RBIs (77), runs (79), hits (126), on-base percentage (.380) and OPS (.848). It also doesn't hurt that James McCann will be returning as the club's backup catcher after earning his first All-Star selection last season en route to hitting a career-best 18 homers. More »
AL West: Astros
This was one of the toughest divisions to evaluate. The Athletics arguably have the most potential upside, with rookie Sean Murphy (Oakland's No. 3 prospect) ready to build off his impressive 20-game big league debut last September. Elsewhere, the Mariners received a surprising amount of production from Tom Murphy and Austin Nola last season, while the Angels recently signed veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Rangers have agreed to a deal to reunite with Robinson Chirinos, a source told MLB.com.
Still, the edge here goes to the Astros. After trading for Martín Maldonado at the Trade Deadline each of the last two seasons, Houston signed him to a two-year deal in December. Maldonado is one of the top defensive catchers in the game, in terms of both slowing down opponents on the basepaths and executing a game plan with his pitching staff. Toss in Dustin Garneau, whom the Astros signed in November for depth, and prospect Garrett Stubbs, who could win a spot as the third catcher, and Houston gets the slight edge here. More »
NL East: Phillies
J.T. Realmuto is not only the class of the NL East behind the plate, but is arguably the best all-around catcher in the Majors. The 28-year-old earned a second consecutive All-Star selection in 2019, while also racking up his second straight Silver Slugger and first career Gold Glove. Realmuto posted career highs in homers (25), RBIs (83), doubles (36), runs (92), walks (41) and slugging percentage (.493) in his debut season with the Phillies. He also threw out a remarkable 43 attempted basestealers -- 16 more than any other catcher. More »
NL Central: Cubs
Willson Contreras has emerged as one of the best backstops in the game, earning starting nods for the NL All-Star team each of the last two seasons. Contreras' name has come up in trade rumors this offseason, but that chatter has quieted and it looks more likely that 27-year-old will once again lead Chicago's catching corps in 2020. He slugged a career-high 24 homers last season, while also posting personal bests in both slugging percentage (.533) and OPS (.888). Along with Contreras establishing himself as one of the top catchers in the Majors, the Cubs a capable backup in Victor Caratini and a promising young talent in Miguel Amaya (Chicago's No. 2 prospect). More »
NL West: Dodgers
The Dodgers are all-in on 24-year-old Will Smith, who earned the starting job in late July and never looked back. The rookie hit 15 home runs in just 54 big league games -- in addition to the 20 he hit at Triple-A Oklahoma City -- and finished with a .907 OPS. Smith will be looking to regain that form in 2020 after struggling a bit down the stretch, hitting just .175 in September and .077 (1-for-13) in the postseason. Still, Smith's upside in his sophomore season is enough to give the Dodgers the edge behind the plate in the NL West. More »