Alright, fine, I'll bite. The Cleveland Indians could maybe use a catcher at the deadline. As I have said before, I am still not on the Trade for Lucroy team, but some kind of upgrade at the position would not hurt. Roberto Perez has not been himself yet, and who knows what Yan Gomes will be when he returns -- he definitely was not cutting it before the injury.
The only issue is, the catcher market is thin, to say the least. Lucroy is the gold prize for teams clamoring for a catcher, but there are other options out there that could be upgrades for the Indians that would not cost one of (if not both of) Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer. A bigger goal at the trade deadline than getting a catcher should be holding into one of those two, at least.
Let's look at some options.
Cameron Rupp, Phillies, Age 27
The Philadelphia Phillies enjoyed a nice little start to the season, but they quickly hit rock bottom and now look like sellers at the deadline. If they are interested in a full fire sale, they could consider parting with Cameron Rupp, but it's still a longshot.
Rupp would be an ideal situation for the Indians. He has been a very good hitter this season -- .271/.327/.475, 10 home runs (113 wRC+) -- and his defense should not be a huge drop-off. The big issue for the Phillies even considering parting with Rupp would be team control. Rupp debuted in 2013 but did not begin getting significant time behind the plate until last season when he played in 81 games and had 299 plate appearances. He is under team control for this season as well as arbitration through 2020. That would be more than enough time to let someone like Francisco Mejia develop in the minors, then potentially flip Rupp down the road if he keeps playing the way he has recently.
The Phillies are still very early in their rebuild, so they might be more interested in prospects in the lower-levels of the Indians farm more than a team ready to compete in 2017. Do the Indians flirt with the idea of dealing Mejia himself for an MLB-ready catcher under control for several years? It'd be interesting.
Stephen Vogt, Athletics, Age 31
Did your stomach go into your throat from that huge drop we just experienced? Yes, the caliber of catchers available after Rupp is quite a bit lower we go down the list, but Stephen Vogt is an option on the cheaper side of things. He is already 31, but still has three years of arbitration eligibility left, so he is far form a rental, but may not be worth hanging onto for all three years he is under control.
Vogt was a solid offensive catcher in 136 games for Oakland Athletics last season, and this year is slashing .276/.316/.439 with eight home runs (103 wRC+). His walk rate has sliced in half from the 11.0 percent he had in 2016, but both ZiPS and Steamer seeing him walking even more in the second half. Defense is another story, and metrics seem to disagree on whether he is average or kind of bad.
Nick Hundley, Rockies, Age 32
Nick Hundley is the first catcher on this list to truly be a rental. The 32-year-old is only under contract through 2016, so if the Indians have more faith in 2017 Yan Gomes or Roberto Perez (or want to pursue someone else in the offseason), this could be another good choice over dumping everything for Lucroy.
Hundley is traditionally a solid defensive catcher, but this year he has added some offense to his game, as well. His 11.1 percent walk rate is a career-high and his 17.5 percent strikeout rate is a career-low.
The price for Hundley should not be too ridiculous, as the Colorado Rockies have another young catcher who I will touch on in a minute.
Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks, Age 29
We are truly in the "well, it won't be expensive, at least" category. Welington Castillo has one more year of arbitration eligibility left, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have very little incentive to hold onto him if they are dumping everything and calling it a season
Castillo had two seasons worth more than 2.0 FanGraphs WAR, most of that value coming from his defense. At 29, those years look to be mostly behind him, but he is enjoying an on-base percentage above .300 for the first time since 2013. The big question is if Castillo would really be an upgrade over Perez or Gomes, even if the price is dirt cheap.
Kurt Suzuki, Twins, Age 32
I was not initially going to include Kurt Suzuki because for some reason I thought he was already in his late-30's, but hey, 32-year-old Suzuki is still pretty good. He is on pace for one of the best offensive seasons of his career with a .292/.326/.447 slash (106 wRC+) and still playing above-average defense.
Similar to some other options on this list, Suzuki is still under contract through next season, so the Indians are not suck with Perez and Gomes if something goes horribly wrong and they are both not any good next season. Despite looking like a World Series contender against the Indians, the Minnesota Twins are going to be heavy sellers at the deadline. Maybe they would be willing to give a discount for their scoreboard guy giving us all a heart attack.
*BONUS SADNESS OPTION* Tony Wolters, Rockies, Age 24
Our little boy is all grown up. Tony Wolters was in the Indians' farm system for years
while were were in another dimension in time and space, stuck on the 40-man roster with nowhere to go, and now he's just gone after the Indians were forced to DFA him to make room.
I do not know what kind of package the Indians would have to include to make the Rockies send away their young, cost-controlled, pitch-framing, above-average hitting catcher, but if it includes a heartfelt apology and desperate plea for him to come home, don't think I am above doing that. Because I will do it. Hit me up, Indians.