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

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Austin Hedges #18 of the San Diego Padres fields an infield single hit by Tyler Austin #19 of the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning of a game at PETCO Park on July 26, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 26: Austin Hedges #18 of the San Diego Padres fields an infield single hit by Tyler Austin #19 of the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning of a game at PETCO Park on July 26, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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San Diego Padres with the MLB debut of Andres Muñoz
San Diego Padres Francisco  Mejia #27 (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

A catching tandem

Starting Mejia in Triple-A after acquiring him, the Padres promoted the young catcher in September of 2018.

Mejia possesses an elite throwing arm but the rest of his defense leaves much to be desired. Most glaring while watching him catch were his passed ball occurrences.

Also lacking is his pitch framing and relationship with his pitchers. Many Padres fans can recall an occurrence during the 2019 Padres season when closer Kirby Yates was noticeably upset with Mejia while on the mound attempting to close a game.

The offense is a different story. Mejia has plus power and a good, short swing that enables him to shoot the ball around the field.

His 2019 slash line of .265/.316/.438 with 8 home runs and 22 RBI produced a 0.7 WAR in just 226 at-bats. His hit tool was the reason the Indians attempted to convert him to the outfield during his stay with the Indians.

His stated preference for catching may contribute to his inability to perform in the outfield. He looked fairly lost out there for the Indians and in his few starts in left field for the Padres.

At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he doesn’t look the part of an outfielder.

It seems obvious that if Mejia can develop into an average catcher then the problem is solved. The fact that the Padres claim to be content to go forward with this tandem into 2020 says that they believe, on the surface, that Mejia can become the primary catcher with Hedges filling in whenever needed.

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