J.T. Realmuto is the clear king of the catchers in 2021, even with his broken thumb. If you don’t want to pay up for him, it might be best to just wait on the position as a whole and take your chances with a mid-to-late-round choice. Here are three Cs to target in those areas of your draft.
Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s appearing more likely that Varsho will open the 2021 season in the minor leagues. That should cause his ADP — around pick No. 160 in recent National Fantasy Baseball Championship drafts — to fall. Still, you should take advantage because Varsho probably won’t be down on the farm for long. He hit just .188 in 115 plate appearances last year, but he also hit three homers and stole three bases. While in the minors, he stole 18 bases in 2018 and then 21 more the following year. He also hit better than .280 in each of those seasons. If Varsho gets an everyday opportunity once he’s called up, there is definite 15-homer, 15-steal upside here with an average that won’t hamstring your team much. A major part of his fantasy appeal is that he has eligibility at catcher and in the outfield.
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
Garver was a fantastic bargain in 2019, when he unexpectedly slugged 31 homers in 93 games. Anyone who hopped back in on Garver in 2020 with the hopes that train would keep chugging along were left stranded as he produced just two homers and an abysmal .511 OPS in an injury-marred campaign.
That has obviously suppressed his value this spring, but don’t overlook that Garver still commonly stung the ball hard when he was on the field last year. His hard-hit rate was north of 40 percent again, and his 8.3 barrel rate, while nearly half of his 2019 output, isn’t a poor number. He must make more contact — Garver struck out 45.7 percent of the time last year — but if he does, he should experience a bit of a rebound year. He may not hit 30 homers again, but 20 HRs from a catcher who is currently going outside the top 12 at the position in ESPN drafts should not be taken for granted.
Tom Murphy, Seattle Mariners
You may not have to spend any draft capital on Murphy since he is going outside of the top 20 at the position right now. There is an understandable reason for the negligence: Murphy didn’t play at all last year due to a broken foot. But in 2019, he blasted 18 homers in 260 at-bats with a workable .273 average. He is now healthy and should get the majority of the starts behind the plate in Seattle. He should be a favorite in two-catcher formats if you need power.