Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: 5 Options the Rays Should Consider at Catcher

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IApril 14, 2012

Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: 5 Options the Rays Should Consider at Catcher

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    It's no secret that the Rays' catching duo is one of the weakest in the league, with Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton holding down the fort. Both players are hitting under .230 thus far, and both would conceivably be backups on other teams.

    Despite not a lot of depth in the catching department, there are still several options outside of the organization that could be brought in as short-term solutions. And some of those short-term solutions could be long-term answers.

    Let's explore who the Rays could pursue.   

5. Christian Bethancourt

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    Christian Bethancourt is one of the Braves' top prospects and could be the future at catcher, considering the Braves are hesitant to lock up Brian McCann at market price.

    Bethancourt's best season came last year when he posted a .289 average in 99 games between Single-A and High-A. 

    He is in Double-A this year and could be tested in Triple-A if things go well. The Braves definitely want to know what kind of prospect they are dealing with, especially if it comes down to locking up McCann or letting him walk. 

    The Braves could likely land an above average pitching prospect, but the Rays may be hesitant as Bethancourt won't be major league-ready until at least 2013. 

4. Welington Castillo

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    Cubs catching prospect Welington Castillo has the potential to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues. He is currently blocked by Geovany Soto and is better served playing every day rather than as the Cubs' backup. 

    In the past, if Soto were to land on the disabled list, it has been Castillo and not the backup catcher who takes his spot in the lineup. 

    However, current Cubs backup Steve Clevenger is platooning nicely early on with Soto and proving to be a good in-game manager. Castillo has also been known to call a good game, and his hitting cannot go unnoticed.

    In six games this season, he is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with two home runs and four strikeouts to three walks.

    Last year in Triple-A, he hit .286 in 61 games with 15 home runs and a .351 on-base percentage.

    The Cubs may consider moving him if the return is right, and the Rays have pitching that could entice the Cubs. He's not a bad option considering the situation and could ride a hot start in Triple-A into seeing a considerable amount of at-bats in the majors.   

3. Ryan Lavarnway

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    Lavarnway is in a similar position as Castillo, blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach in Boston but an everyday catcher with a penchant for hitting. 

    Last year in Triple-A, he hit .290 in 116 games with 32 home runs and a .376 on-base percentage. He puts up very strong numbers across the board and has continued to do that over the past few seasons. 

    It would likely cost the Rays one of their better prospects, but they have a lot of depth and the Red Sox are now looking for outfield help. There could be a match there. 

2. Ryan Doumit

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    Doumit had a nice season before getting injured, hitting .303 through 77 games. He is a solid backup for Joe Mauer but could be a moved for a decent chip and cash.

    The question becomes whether the Rays are that discontent with their current situation that they would take a chance on a player who has more long-term upside than either of their two current options.

1. Miguel Montero

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    Miguel Montero and the Diamondbacks broke off extension talks earlier this spring, and it looks as if they will head toward an offseason showdown.

    Montero is sure to get a lot of attention on the market from the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and potentially even the Dodgers

    If the D'Backs appear out of playoff contention, it may serve them wall to restock while they can and trade Montero for a package of pitchers. The Rays certainly can match the Diamondbacks on that need, and both would benefit equally.

    And it would definitely send chills down the spines of the Yankees and Red Sox as the Rays would take another step toward becoming a mainstay at the top of the AL East.  

    The Diamondbacks like to build through the draft, so it would not surprise me if they held out for an overwhelming offer.