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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

Over the past month, I have been working around the diamond. Today, let's finish up with some backstops who are ideally a little below the antennae of your league.

In the end, unless you anticipate going Buster Posey high-end, or even mid range with Jonathan Lucroy or Brian McCann, the other path is the crapshoot catchers. Let's take a look at some of these potential bargains.

Let's start in Miami with J.T. Realmuto, perhaps the most obscure of the guys I like simply because he plays for the Fish and registered just a .290 OBP his first full season starting. Never mind that catchers are almost always slower than their position counterparts when it comes to developing as hitters, for Realmuto had a decent .335 OBP in the Minors, and as a backstop, he should have some improved zone judgement. But, a .259-10-47 line with eight swipes looks like a bargain catcher and I think Realmuto will improve accordingly.

Travis d'Arnaud is sort of the opposite of Realmuto, a guy we all know from the postseason who registered a .268-12-41 line over 202 fewer at-bats. d'Arnaud will cost you as a rising prospect, but his .290-76-332 minor league marks screams for attention. He has the brightest future of the bunch, in my opinion.

Tyler Flowers is probably on everyone's radar thanks to his two-year free agent deal with the Braves. But again, on-base numbers might well keep the backstop, who will be 30 on Opening Day, in the background. Flowers has 46 career homers, largely pulled over the last three seasons, but just a .289 (93 walks to 464 whiffs) OBP, something of concern. This number, however, is 100 points below the .391 OBP that Flowers posted in the Minors (324 BB to 519 K), and as an everyday free agent catcher, I expect Flowers to settle in as a vet and kick his totals up.

The Bucs' Francisco Cervelli has hardly been a secret, as his hitting line was always pretty good (.278-9-72 over 255 games) with the Yankees, but the catcher stepped nicely into a full-time role in Pittsburgh last year, hitting .295-7-43. Cervelli almost defines cheap catcher who will not really hurt you. The thing is, he could get better.

Back to the guys with an upward curve ahead, the Tigers will give James McCann a shot at starting in 2016, and he is yet another on this list with decent 2015 production (.264-7-41) but an anemic on-base line of .296 (16 walks to 90 strikeouts). McCann is a free swinger, but on the heavy hitting Detroit team, there is a good chance he gets better pitches to look at, and that points to improvement all around. Cheap, he will likely be, but likely effective.

Finally, the path is similarly clear for Cameron Rupp, who filled in behind Carlos Ruiz last year to the tune of .233-9-28 over 81 games. The Phils are indeed a work in progress which kind of diminishes Rupp's value along with his lack of experience. But, someone has to play, and actually Cameron's on-base total of .301 last year beats just about everyone on this list.

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