We take a look at why the San Diego Padres should hang onto Austin Hedges this offseason and give him plenty of time behind the plate.
For the majority of this offseason we’ve been focusing on the fact that the San Diego Padres are likely looking to trade catcher Austin Hedges. So I thought I would turn that around and it look at from the standpoint as to why they shouldn’t trade Hedges.
There may not be a more debated player on the Padres roster than Hedges.
If you just search the name Austin Hedges on Twitter you’ll see fans that think he should start every day because of his defense, and some fans who think he’s the worst catcher in the world because of his offense.
What you’ll also find are some very funny tweets about how we know Hedges hasn’t been wearing any buzzers.
Yes, I know Hedges has been terrible in his first five Major League seasons at the plate. He has a career average of .201 with an OBP of .257. But he has hit double-digit home runs in three straight seasons.
It’s not like we were expecting much from Hedges on offense. He slashed .273/.326/.441 throughout the minors. He’s always been known as a defensive-first catcher.
And that’s exactly what the Padres need right now.
San Diego is likely going to have three starters in their rotation this year that have less than 300 innings in the big leagues. And they could have some young rookies come up as well.
They need all the help behind the plate they can get in order to be successful, and Hedges is their best chance of succeeding.
Despite being a terrible offensive player, Hedges has averaged a 1.8 WAR season the past three years strictly because he’s so good on defense.
Of catchers who caught at least 500 innings last season, Hedges was the best at framing, according to FanGraphs. He also led the league with 18 rSZ (strikezone runs saved), and he was second in DRS with 22.
This video here from this past Spring Training tells you everything you need to know about Hedges as a catcher and why the Padres need him.
I get that today’s game is all of about offense and scoring runs, but preventing runs does you just as much good.
And Hedges has proven that he’s one of the best in the game at preventing runs and getting outs behind the plate.
But I do get the frustrations with his offense. However, if he just give us his 2018 season when he hit .231 with 14 home runs I’ll be happy.
I’d obviously love to see him be more of a .250/.320 hitter with 15-20 home runs, but that’s not my expectation for him anymore.
My expectation is that he starts around 80 games a year for the young guys, helps them adjust to the big leagues, and steals a bunch of strikes for them.
I’ve been one who has been looking to trade Hedges all offseason. But the more I think about where the Padres are at with their pitching staff, it doesn’t make much sense to move the best catcher (in the field) when the likely value you’d get back in return is minimal.