Mitch Garver: The Minnesota Twins next long term catcher
By Matt Smith
So where do we go from here? Garver has given the Twins good reason to have faith in him to be our next long term catcher. He is under contract for the next 5 years, so we can count on seeing a lot more of him moving forward. 2019 and 2020 are team control years where he will likely make close to league minimum each season, and then he enters arbitration in the 2021 season where, if he keeps up the good work, he can expect a nice upgrade in salary. Given that he still has 5 full years of control left, I wouldn’t expect there to be any news of an extension anytime soon. There’s just no reason to with a guy like Garver, who is 27 years old, is under team control for a long time, and plays a position where players typically don’t last long into their 30s at. With that said, there’s no reason the Twins should want to move on from him anytime soon. It’ll likely just be quiet for at least a few more years in regards to Garver and his contract status.
The Twins don’t have a whole lot of catching talent in the minor leagues behind Garver either, so he’s probably safe for now in that aspect. Ryan Jeffers, the Twins’ 2nd round draft pick this year, has played quite well this season, but he’s only 21 years old and still has several more years in the minors before being ready for the MLB. That’s really about it on the farm. There’s some guys similar to Willians Astudillo that are in the system and can play the role of backup catcher in the big leagues if needed, but these guys won’t challenge Garver for the starting job anytime soon.
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The biggest complicating factor right now is Jason Castro. He won’t return to play this season, but should be back at some point next year, potentially ready for the start of the season. He’ll be on the last year of his contract with the Twins, earning $8 million. That’s not exactly a salary you want to have sitting on the bench, but if Garver keeps up his play, there’s no reason Castro should be starting over him next year.
In any situation, the Twins figure to have both Garver and Castro as their two major league catchers for the good majority of next year, but it remains to be seen exactly how they’ll be used. Castro has much more experience and is better defensively, while Garver brings much more to the plate offensively and is under contract through 2023.
Personally, I’d love to see Garver be named the starter with Jason Castro in a backup role. That would allow Garver to continue to grow as a player while Castro acts as a mentor to him, particularly helping out with his defense and game calling ability. If Garver is going to keep of the offensive production, the Twins simply cannot him in any role other than starter.
This lineup has really struggled with getting quality offensive production out of the catcher slot, again dating back to the Joe Mauer days, so the organization should be jumping at the opportunity to have Garver’s bat in the lineup most days. Castro is much better suited for a backup role anyways. He doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table offensively, but is one of the better defensive catchers out there and really helps our pitching staff out. If he can pass off some of those defensive attributes to Garver, man, we could have quite the catcher on our hands. It’ll certainly be fun to continue to follow Garver’s career.