The Baltimore Orioles will be searching for a catcher during this offseason. Could former Oriole Nick Hundley be the guy?
Long-time Orioles catcher, Matt Wieters, didn’t receive the qualifying offer (1 year/$17.2M) from the team. He is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team that he wants. Baltimore needs a stop gap, before calling up the 21-year old catcher, Chance Sisco. Although Sisco has been a tremendous hitter (batting .323 with a .402 on-base percentage in four minor league seasons), he has been mediocre behind the plate (only catching 22 percent of possible basestealers). So who could the Orioles get to fill in before Sisco comes to Baltimore?
Here is a list of free-agent catchers:
Matt Wieters, BAL
Kurt Suzuki, MIN
Wilson Ramos, WAS
Jason Castro, HOU
A.J. Ellis, PHI
Chris Iannetta, SEA
Dioner Navarro, TOR
Ryan Hanigan, BOS
Nick Hundley, COL
A.J. Pierzynsky, ATL
Geovany Soto, LAA
Alex Avila, CHW
Brayan Pena, STL
Jeff Mathis, MIA
Chris Gimenez, CLE
Tony Cruz, KC
Steve Clevenger, SEA
Juan Centeno, MIN
Rene Rivera, NYM
Josh Thole, TOR
Bobby Wilson, TB
Miguel Olivo, SF
With Wieters, Castro and Ramos, their asking prices will be through the roof, despite Ramos being injured. As stated previously, the Orioles will most likely go for a veteran catcher who can command a game.
Hundley would be that guy, at least for a year. The Orioles have been linked to the 33-year old catcher for a reunion, according to Baltimore Baseball’s Dan Connolly:
The best fit, without a doubt, is Colorado’s Nick Hundley, who spent part of 2014 with the Orioles and performed well. Pitchers liked throwing to him, he got along well with Joseph and Wieters and he made a real connection with catching instructor John Russell.
The Orioles definitely have an interest in a reunion with Hundley, according to sources.
The 33-year-old batted .260 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 83 games in 2016, a season in which he missed a month due to a strained oblique.
However, he will probably want a two-year deal:
The problem with Hundley is that the Orioles didn’t want to give him a two-year deal following the 2014 season. Now he’s older, has had some more nicks and bruises and still likely will command a multi-year deal on the open market.
It’s difficult to imagine the Orioles offering two years to him now, when they balked at that previously.
Many of the other catchers will have to be paired with Caleb Joseph, so it would probably have to be a left-handed hitting catcher. Alex Avila is also a possibility, but his batting average was poor with the Chicago White Sox (.210 in 57 games). His OBP is great though and at a .346 career clip, it could be a smart signing for the Orioles.
Personally, I don’t believe that the Orioles need to sign an offensive catcher. If they can ink a one-year deal with a defensive catcher, he could aid the young Sisco in his quest to the Majors. It all starts during Spring Training.