How Twins' catching unit looks ahead of '24

January 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Hard to believe it’s already 2024, but here we are with our first regularly scheduled newsletter of the new year. With exactly five weeks remaining until the Twins report to Fort Myers, Fla., for their first Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers on Feb. 14, we begin our positional preview series ahead of the upcoming season.


I like fun stats, so here’s a particularly good one for you: Last season marked the first time in 44 years in which the Twins only needed two catchers to make it through a full, 162-game season.

and caught every inning in 2023, making them the first backstop tandem to do so for the Twins since Butch Wynegar and Glenn Borgmann in 1979. (The feat was also accomplished by Matt Walbeck and Derek Parks -- remember them? -- in 1994, but that was, of course, a strike-shortened season.)

But that level of steadiness is almost always the exception rather than the rule in baseball. With that in mind, how does Minnesota’s catching position look heading into '24?

Where things stand

Current MLB depth (with 2023 stats): Jeffers (age 26, 96 G, 3.3 WAR, 138 wRC+, 14 HR, .276/.369/.490), Vázquez (age 33, 102 G, -0.3 WAR, 65 wRC+, 6 HR, .223/.280/.318)

Also on the 40-man:  (Triple-A St. Paul, age 24, 90 G, 21 HR, .259/.323/.503)

At this very important position, the Twins had unprecedented stability and meaningful production on both sides of the ball, thanks to Jeffers’ long-awaited breakout offensive season and the duo’s ability to guide a pitching staff that served as the bedrock of the club’s division title, and ultimately, its streak-breaking playoff run.

Vázquez initially received more of the playing time after the Twins signed him to a three-year, $30 million deal in the offseason, but he ceded more and more of that time to Jeffers as the former top prospect used his retooled swing to surge to an .858 OPS. Jeffers started -- and finished -- all six playoff games as well.

Though Vázquez is working at Driveline (the noted training facility) this offseason, Jeffers should be in line for more of the playing time in '24 -- but how much more, exactly?

Behind them is the free-swinging Camargo, who first came to the organization in the 2020 trade that brought Kenta Maedafrom Los Angeles to Minnesota. He’ll be first up as depth after the Twins added him to the 40-man roster this offseason following a power-packed Triple-A season that indicated viable potential as an MLB backup.

Key question: Is this tandem still set?

With the Twins having indicated that they’re working with greater payroll restrictions this offseason due to the ongoing uncertainty stemming from their lack of a television contract, an option could be to seek a trade for Vázquez to free up the money from his remaining contract and bump Camargo into the catching tandem (or find another catcher somewhere).

But the Twins, as an organizational philosophy, do not view the catcher position as a one-man job anymore. They don’t view it as a coincidence that Jeffers’ strong production and their health at the position came with a nearly even split of the playing time, and they plan to roll with a timeshare for the foreseeable future.

That would mean a possible Vázquez departure would necessarily entail a huge reliance on either Camargo (who has yet to debut in the Majors) or someone else alongside Jeffers, whereas Vázquez is a respected veteran who already has familiarity with this pitching staff. With other veterans like Austin Hedges and Martín Maldonado off the market, that’s not necessarily an easy find.

Whatever the case, expect another heavy timeshare in '24 until the games matter most.

In the pipeline

Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline: No. 21 Ricardo Olivar (Single-A Fort Myers), No. 29 Noah Cardenas (High-A Cedar Rapids)

The Twins don’t have many top catching prospects waiting in the wings, and aside from a few reasonably productive high Minors options in Alex Isola and Patrick Winkel, the club usually opts for a handful of veteran-ish non-roster invitees at the position to fortify its depth in Spring Training.

Tony Wolters was that guy last year, considered the de facto next man up after the Twins let go of fellow NRIs Chance Cisco and Grayson Greiner, but he ultimately wasn’t needed. They’ll have to figure it out if necessary -- but the Twins have the pieces in place to run it back in '24.