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Ranking the top 25 catchers in fantasy baseball [UPDATE]

We take a look at the catcher position, including notable offseason transactions, injury news, and rank out the best options for your 2021 fantasy baseball drafts.

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March 26 update: Diamondbacks C/OF Daulton Varsho will begin this season in the minors. He has been lowered from No. 13 to No. 21 in these ranks. He should be back in the majors at some point this spring or summer and offers lots of upside because of his power-speed skills package and position flexibility.

March 24 update: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said last week that Will Smith will start “somewhere around” 90 games. He could still be a special offensive player, but I have dropped Smith two places in these ranks and to the bottom of what I consider to be a four-player second tier at catcher.

J.T. Realmuto is in a tier all by his lonesome at the top of the ranks, and that’s not changing. But it’s noteworthy that after fracturing a finger more than a month ago, Realmuto made his spring training debut on Tuesday and promptly homered in his first at-bat. He’s fine.

March 17 update: Padres catcher Austin Nola fractured the middle finger on his left hand last week. That’s his receiving hand. San Diego hasn’t presented a recovery timetable yet, but this would seem to be a multi-week injury that puts Nola’s status for Opening Day very much in doubt. Catcher is such a thin position that he remains inside my top 12, but he has been moved from No. 7 to No. 11.

March 9 update: J.T Realmuto said last week that he remains on track for Opening Day as his broken right thumb continues to heal well. He remains the undisputed No. 1 fantasy catcher.

Sean Murphy took part in some batting practice on Monday, a notable step in his recovery after he underwent two surgeries last month to address a collapsed lung. He has been moved down a couple of spots in the rankings, but he could see his stock rise as he does more baseball activities over the next few weeks.

Yasmani Grandal was able to take some swings over the weekend. He hasn’t played in a spring training game yet after twisting his right knee in February. Grandal is still expected to be ready for the start of the season, so he hasn’t moved from the No. 5 spot in these rankings yet.

To J.T. or not J.T? That is the question at catcher this season for fantasy baseball participants. J.T. Realmuto is the No. 1 without a doubt. He’s coming off of draft boards in the third or fourth round and commonly a few rounds before any other catcher. If you bypass him, you might choose Salvador Perez or Will Smith before pick No. 100. And then there will be a good portion of fantasy owners, especially those in one-catcher leagues, who just decide to punt the group as a whole and try their best with a late-round selection and whatever blossoms on the waiver wire.

Offseason transactions

Realmuto re-upped with the Philadelphia Phillies for five more years in December. He will remain a middle-of-the-lineup bat inside one of baseball’s friendliest ballparks for hitters.

James McCann cashed in on his success during the shortened 2020 season, inking a four-year deal with the New York Mets. He set career-highs in a myriad of categories last year, including an .896 OPS that surpassed his previous best by more than 100 points. The seven-year veteran is heading into his age-31 campaign.

Notable injuries

Realmuto broke his right thumb in mid-February while blocking a pitch. It’s uncertain that he will be ready for opening day, but if not, it sounds like he won’t miss much more time beyond that. It might take him a while to find his swing once he’s back in action, but he remains the definitive top option at catcher in fantasy leagues.

Athletics catcher Sean Murphy will take it a little easy this month as he is still recovering from a scary situation in January when he woke up one morning with a collapsed lung. The cause of that injury is unknown. However, Murphy is reportedly optimistic that he will be ready for opening day.

The White Sox’s Yasmani Grandal is managing some knee tendinitis. He shouldn’t be out long.

Top 25 catcher rankings

Catcher rankings 2021

Rank Player Team
Rank Player Team
1 J.T. Realmuto Philadelphia Phillies
2 Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals
3 Willson Contreras Chicago Cubs
4 Yasmani Grandal Chicago White Sox
5 Will Smith Los Angeles Dodgers
6 Travis d'Arnaud Atlanta Braves
7 Christian Vazquez Boston Red Sox
8 Gary Sanchez New York Yankees
9 James McCann New York Mets
10 Mitch Garver Minnesota Twins
11 Austin Nola San Diego Padres
12 Sean Murphy Oakland Athletics
13 Jorge Alfaro Miami Marlins
14 Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals
15 Pedro Severino Baltimore Orioles
16 Tom Murphy Seattle Mariners
17 Buster Posey San Francisco Giants
18 Carson Kelly Arizona Diamondbacks
19 Danny Jansen Toronto Blue Jays
20 Alejandro Kirk Toronto Blue Jays
21 Wilson Ramos Detroit Tigers
22 Daulton Varsho Arizona Diamondbacks
23 Yan Gomes Washington Nationals
24 Omar Narvaez Milwaukee Brewers
25 Max Stassi Los Angeles Angels