Tampa Bay Rays: Three catchers to target

CHICAGO - APRIL 08: Mike Zunino #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays catches against the Chicago White Sox on April 8, 2019 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - APRIL 08: Mike Zunino #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays catches against the Chicago White Sox on April 8, 2019 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Tyler Flowers

It should be noted that the Tampa Bay Rays currently employs one catcher on its 40-man roster: top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez. While Hernandez hasn’t played professionally above Class A Advanced, don’t be surprised if the Rays look to expedite his trip to the big leagues.

It’s very possible to see Hernandez in a big-league uniform halfway through the 2021 campaign. That being said, Tampa Bay will probably look for cheap, timeshare candidates that appeal to its analytics staff.

Enter Tyler Flowers. The 35-year-old Flowers hits unrestricted free agency after a season playing backup to d’Arnaud in Atlanta. Throughout his career, Flowers has been regarded as a premium pitch-framer who mashes left-handed pitching.

A primary defender who can successfully hit at one side of the plate? That’s the primary definition of a Tampa Bay position player. According to FanGraphs’ advanced metrics of catchers, Flowers recorded a 0.4 fielding rating. The majority of catchers on this list ranked negatively in this category.

While Flowers’ production against lefties has hit a downturn in recent years, Tampa Bay will be happy to look at the entire body of work here. Throughout 12 seasons, Flowers owns a .234/.333/.391 batting line against lefties. The 35-year-old is also decent at hitting to all fields.

Against lefties, Flowers has a pull percentage of 42.5 percent but hits to center field or opposite field nearly 60 percent of the time.

The Tampa Bay Rays could likely sign Flowers to less than $2 million next year, which makes this an even better possibility.