Catchers are important, so why aren’t they paid like it?
With Major League Baseball being worth more money than ever before, contracts are starting to inflate to great levels for players. Every year players are signing record breaking contracts and with all the money being thrown at these guys, the more they get analyzed.
Catchers are undoubtedly the most important position players on the field. They are responsible for knowing the scouting report of the other team, calling pitches, aligning infielders, limiting the aggressiveness of base-runners, and managing pitchers. On top of all that, they get beat to hell with foul tips, spiked pitches, and until there is an official agreement, base-runners.
Because of what they endure, one would think that catchers should be receiving some of the healthier contracts in the game. Sadly this is not the case. In 2014 there is only one catcher that whose salary ranks in the top 50 in the league and that is Brian McCann at $17 million. Joe Mauer is earning $23 million but will no longer catch for the Twins as he is making the move over to first base. In 2006 catchers had the lowest average salary with only three guys earning over $10 million. In 2011 free agent catchers were paid less than free agents at every other position besides centerfield.
It’s understood that because of the defensive obligations of catchers, they are not the most productive guys at the plate and that causes their salaries to take a hit. That is why offensive catchers like McCann are coveted, but it does seem unfair that the guys playing the toughest position are not getting paid as much as pitchers who do not play every day and are not looked to produce offensively as well as defensively like catchers.
Catchers are like managers on the field. They have unlimited trips to the mound and do a lot of coaching for the infielders and pitchers when the manager does not want to use one of his trips. Although catchers rarely lead their teams offensively, they are the driving force on defense.
Is it odd to think that a player that does not put up a ton of offensive production should get paid like one that does? Down the stretch and especially in the playoffs it is proven that defense is more important than offense. Catchers are the ultimate defensive player and a good guy behind the plate can prevent the other team from scoring runs. If a team cannot score they cannot win. This only amplifies the importance of the catcher as far as game planning and calling pitches.
The defensive importance of catchers should be enough to add to their contracts. Every good team is led by a supreme backstop and they should be appreciated more with their contracts.