The Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing was the last big free-agent splash we saw before a relatively quiet holiday weekend. Things should begin to heat up again in the coming days as teams turn their attention to the next tier of available players. Let’s review a few signings that have gone down in the latest Hot Stove Lowdown.
Mariners add power bat with Mitch Garver
The Mariners have been searching for a slugger to add to the middle of their lineup. They might have found their man over the weekend. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Seattle agreed to terms on a two-year, $24 million contract with catcher Mitch Garver. The 32-year-old slugger slashed an impressive .270/.370/.500 with 19 homers and 50 RBI across 344 plate appearances with the Rangers last season. Garver is known more for his bat than his glove, starting over twice as many games as designated hitter than catcher over the last two seasons with the Rangers. Part of that has been to keep him healthy. Garver’s injury history is a lengthy one. He missed nearly two months with a sprained knee last season. And a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm ended his 2022 season in July. Groin and back injuries limited Garver to 68 games in 2021. Still, there are few backstops that possess his power at the plate.
Garver’s .870 OPS led all catchers with at least 300 plate appearances. His .500 slugging percentage trailed only Yainer Díaz. He produced a 12.6 percent barrel rate that ranked fourth and paired his slugging ability with a solid contact rate, posting a 23.8 percent strikeout rate. While Garver should get the occasional start at catcher, backing up Cal Raleigh, he should be in the lineup most days as the designated hitter. And as the roster is currently constructed, he’ll be batting in the heart of the order. There is a 20-plus home run and 60-plus RBI upside. Getting everyday volume, with health, could make Garver one of the more valuable catchers going in early NFBC drafts with an average pick of 203.
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