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The St. Louis Cardinals are looking at catchers during Winter Meetings - A Hunt and Peck

Backstop looks to be the first... stop.

St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

With the retirement of the Cardinals longtime catcher Yadier Molina the Cardinals find themselves looking in a market they had been out of for nineteen seasons: starting catcher. With the position open for the first time in nearly two decades the Cardinals will be making catchers their priority at this winter’s meetings according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Per Goold:

They have plans to meet with representatives for free agent catchers Willson Contreras and Christian Vazquez, according to sources, and have other conversations to continue with teams like Toronto and Oakland, both of whom are entertaining trade offers for a catcher.

The biggest name available appears to be catcher Willson Contreras, a free agent after rejecting the Cubs qualifying offer this offseason. projects Contreras to land a contract for around four years for $84 million. Contreras has been notably good with the bat, but his defense has some holes, specifically with pitch framing (though how important that is might be debatable). He will also be turning 31 in May of 2023 and would cost draft pick compensation, so it seems unlikely the Cardinals would make him their biggest free agent signing since Matt Holliday.

What seems more likely is a possible trade for Oakland’s Sean Murphy or one of Toronto’s catchers Alejandro Kirk or Gabriel Moreno. Murphy is the oldest of these options at 28 years old with three season of MLB service time followed by Kirk with two seasons and then Moreno who would hit free agency in 2029. While Kirk and Moreno have better projections offensively, Murphy was of course one of the best defensive catchers in the league in 2022. In limited major league exposure, Moreno’s numbers behind the plate look pretty good, but in a sample size too small to be meaningful. More importantly for now is that the scouting on him seems very exciting and with two catchers that seem to be ahead of him in the Toronto depth chart, he might be a very interesting player for the Cardinals to target.

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