Who is the catcher for San Diego Padres in 2020 and beyond?

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San Diego Padres defeat Reds

Eugenio  Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds is tagged out by Francisco  Mejia #27 of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres have addressed several needs so far in this 2019 offseason. Improving the roster was a stated goal going into 2020, a much needed improvement is in the area of starting catcher.

San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges has long been lauded as one of the best, if not the best, defensive catcher in the MLB.

Lacking a Gold Glove award due to his sub par offense, Hedges consistently rates high in pitch calling, framing, blocking and handling his pitchers.

He possesses an above-average throwing tool with fewer and fewer runners attempting to steal on him.

The obvious downside to Hedges’ game is his offense. Once considered by many to be the top catching prospect in baseball, Hedges has failed to develop a consistent offensive approach and has been unable to sustain any offensive momentum.

As an elite defender, most teams would accept a .230 or so average from their catcher. Hedges has some pop and contributes 10 or more home runs per season but his strikeout rate and inability to make contact to even put the ball in play effectively make his spot in the batting rotation a black hole.

His career .208/.252/.360 slash line in 1,163 AB falls far below the offensive minimum for any player.

He was particularly abysmal in 2019 with a .176/.252/.311 line, which could be partly explained by his job sharing position and inconsistent at-bats.

In an attempt to retain Hedges’ services while increasing the offensive output at the position, the Padres acquired Francisco Mejia from the Cleveland Indians for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber mid-season of 2018.

 

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