One of the most important positions in all of baseball is the catcher. The catcher is the defensive leader of the team because he sees everything that happens and is involved in every aspect of the game. This position is very special because there are only a very few solid hitting catchers, while others take pride in great defense.
This year's catchers market is very weak so a teams decision will depend on what kind of catcher they are looking for. Here is a look at the top five catchers available this year on the free-agent market.
Jason Varitek brings the most experience out of this group of free agent catchers. He has caught for a great staff in Boston and knows how to manage a game as a catcher. Varitek batted a .221 last year and had 11 homers.
The biggest knock against Varitek is his age. At 40, he is still producing at the plate. He struggled defensively but if you are looking for a catcher with experience, Varitek is the best option.
Chris Snyder has proved he is a solid catcher. He only played in 33 games last year but was good at throwing out runners. He caught six runners stealing and was able to knock in 17 runs. He hit .271 last season and had a .998 fielding percentage.
Chris Snyder can produce when he is given the chance. He is only 30 years old and can grow into a good catcher if he gets more experience.
Rod Barajas has been a solid option at the catcher position for his entire career. He hit .230 last season with 16 homers in only 98 games. Barajas has the ability to throw out runners. Last season he threw out 20 runners in 80 attempts.
Barajas is good defensively but has a weak arm. He had only two errors and three passed balls all last season. If you're looking for more power from the catcher position and not as much defense, Barajas is the man to go after.
Ramon Hernandez had a great season last year. He hit a solid .282 as a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds and threw out 23 of 62 runners stealing. He only allowed three passed balls all year so he is a very good defensive catcher.
Hernandez provides a lot of experience and was able to hit 12 homers last season. Hernandez is a very viable option for teams that are looking to fill a void at the catcher spot.
The best catcher available on the market is Ryan Doumit. Doumit is only 30 years old and is a career .271 hitter. Doumit hit .303 last year but was injured for a good portion of the season.
He threw out 13 of 54 runners stealing and had only six errors on the season. Doumit would fit nicely in the seventh or eighth sport in any lineup and can contribute in many ways.
Honorable Mention: Yadier Molina would be the best catcher on the free-agent market, but he has a cub option for the 2012 season.
He is likely to remain a Cardinal but if not, St. Louis is losing a great offensive weapon.