Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen has made clear that the team is looking for a catcher to back up Gabriel Moreno, who is expected to start 110-120 games. (Moreno’s 41-game absence with a mid-season hand injury provides a reminder of how important this position is.) Given that the D-backs sent Seby Zavala to the Seattle Mariners as part of the Eugenio Suárez trade, it makes sense they’ll be looking to add depth.
Recently, the D-backs signed catcher Ronaldo Hernández to an MiLB contract, but given that he has yet to play an MLB game, it seems unlikely he will break Spring Training with the team. On top of that, the D-Backs would need to add him to the 40-man roster. Additionally, the farm system does not have any candidates who are near-MLB ready.
In exploring this question, it’s worthwhile to survey the D-backs’ current backup catcher along with some of the best available free-agents to see if any would be a good fit. Given the additions of Suárez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the lineup, whether the backup catcher bats from the left or right side has become less important.
I should add that my thinking on backup catchers in general is influenced by Tim Brown and Erik Kratz’s book “The Tao of the Backup Catcher: Playing Baseball for the Love of the Game.” Their primary thesis is that a player becomes a backup catcher largely due to a lack of offensive skills. “Because backup catchers also strain to hit .210,” Brown and Kratz write, “because if they hit .250 they wouldn’t be backup catchers.”
In other words, the D-backs will probably not be looking for a power bat in a backup catcher; rather, the position requires a different set of skills, which mostly involve supporting pitching staff. Some above-average offense is an added bonus.