2016 Catcher Dynasty/Keeper Rankings

2016 Dynasty Rankings LogoAfter each week of positional coverage, we will wrap things up here Sunday with our 2016 dynasty/keeper rankings.  Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see Travis d’Arnaud ranked ahead of players like Brian McCann – that does not mean that we believe d’Arnaud will be the superior short-term option.

Catcher is one of the most difficult positions to evaluate in dynasty leagues. Injury risk is always higher for catchers due to the extreme physical toll that the position can take on an athlete, even with the new rule that protects the catcher from plate collisions. Elite offensive options often end up being moved to other positions either because they are not up to par defensively, or because the club decides that a move to a less taxing position like first base keeps that big bat in the lineup more regularly.

When investing in a long-term keeper at catcher, be aware that your stud may be playing another position down the road.  Santana & Mauer were moved in 2014; in 2015 we saw Evan Gattis shift to the outfield, Wilin Rosario to first and Stephen Vogt played both catcher and first as the A’s attempted to keep his bat in the lineup.  Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have been seeing time at first for a few years now.  You’ll get a warning; things like this don’t happen immediately (barring an injury), but it is something to be aware of.

Taking part in our dynasty rankings will be Paul Hartman, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Will Emerson, Ron Vackar and Michael Zakhar.  Our six experts each ranked their top 20 catchers.  Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 20 by that particular person,  Here are the results along with last year’s ranking.

Rank 2015 Player Kevin Zak Will Paul Ron Jim
1 1 Buster Posey 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 19 Kyle Schwarber 3 2 2 2 3 3
3 4 Salvador Perez 5 7 4 5 2 5
4 7 Travis d’Arnaud 4 5 6 3 6 4
5 2 Jonathan Lucroy 6 6 5 6 4 2
6 3 Devin Mesoraco 12 4 3 7 9 8
7 10 Brian McCann 11 3 11 8 5 7
8 N/R Blake Swihart 10 12 10 4 8 6
9 9 Yan Gomes 7 14 8 9 10 9
10 20 Russell Martin 8 11 13 12 13 13
11 N/R J.T. Realmuto 14 13 9 10 17 11
12 16 Yasmani Grandal N/R 9 7 11 7 15
13 14 Derek Norris 9 15 18 16 12 10
14 N/R Stephen Vogt 2 16 16 N/R 11 14
15 5 Matt Wieters 20 8 12 15 14 17
16 12 Wilson Ramos 17 10 14 18 16 12
17 N/R Welington Castillo 13 17 19 13 20 19
18 15 Miguel Montero 16 18 N/R N/R 15 20
19 N/R Caleb Joseph N/R N/R 17 17 N/R 16
20 6 Yadier Molina 18 N/R 15 N/R 18 N/R

The top 5 players really need no explanation or commentary.  Everyone knows Buster Posey is the top option.  Jonathan Lucroy  is still a top 5 option and is as close to a plug and play option as you can get.  The same can be said about Salvador Perez, whose numbers have stabilized the past few season. Travis d’Arnaud and Kyle Schwarber have a lot of potential.  It may take them a year or two to earn their respective rankings, but they have the upside to do just that.

As for the remaining players, our panel shares their thoughts on each below.

6. Devin Mesoraco – Cincinnati Reds

  • Kevin: Anyone missing nearly a full season warrants caution. He has power, but 2014’s great surface stats were fueled by high BABIP and HR/FB in first half that aren’t likely sustainable.
  • Will: Hip injury be darned, the Punxsutawney Pounder is still only 27 and had 25 dingers in his last full season. Mesoraco should be one of the safer bets to consistently produce from the catcher spot over the next 5 years.

7. Brian McCann – Yankees

  • Ron: McCann is just young enough at 31, and just had the bounce back season we needed to see to believe in him again. Hitting in the middle of the Yankee lineup never hurt anyone.
  • Jim: 8 straight years of 20+ home runs.  Just once in the past 10 seasons has he had under 67 RBIs.  Those kind of numbers make him a top 5 in two categories most years. Just make up the average someplace else.

8. Blake Swihart – Red Sox

  • Paul: Swihart was a highly-touted prospect heading in to 2015, and all he did was become the second best offensive catcher in the second half with a .350 wOBA. There isn’t a ton of power yet, but he should develop into a 10-15 HR guy to go with a .280 AVG. 
  • Zak: I am loathe to recommend a Red Sox rookie, but Swihart impressed me. He displayed some power in the second half, as well as mild improvements in plate discipline. It may be a bit of a roller coaster early on, but with his pedigree he could make a leap in the coming years.

9. Yan Gomes – Indians

  • Kevin: A slow start and knee sprain made 2015 a lost season. His LD% suggests 2015 BABIP was low, so BA should rebound. He may not reach 20+ HR again, but 15+ is possible with a better BA. Catcher is weak, so give him a pass and hope for a rebound that isn’t a long shot.
  • Zak: Around this time last year Gomes was being talked about as a top 5 option, right there with guys several slots ahead of him. He dealt with some injuries in 2015, but the power is still there and he’s just 28. No need to jump ship now.

10. Russell Martin – Blue Jays

  • Kevin: Most catchers aren’t great long-term keepers for dynasty. For that reason, Martin’s rebound in 2014-15 makes him a great short-term investment. He’s “old” and entering his 11th season, but people will pay for 15+ HR at catcher, and Rogers Centre greatly helps RHB HR numbers.
  • Paul: Martin is in a great spot, playing for the high-octane Toronto Blue Jays. He’s signed for the next 4 seasons, and at 32 years old, I’d expect him to be a top 5 option next year and then gradually tick down. My ranking reflects a 5-yr outlook of the following ranks: 5, 7, 10, 13, 25‎ with DH time increasing over that span. 

11. J.T. Realmuto – Marlins

  • Ron: Realmuto is a standard boring catcher, but at least he will give you a little production across the board. Yup, even a handful of stolen bases.
  • Will: Taking a bit of a leap of faith with JT, since the sample size is small, but Realmuto was pretty locked in at the end of the season. Walk rate still leaves something to be desired, but he had a .373 wOBA in the final month of the season to build on. At just 24, that eye and power should still improve, so the sky’s the limit.

12. Yasmani Grandal – Dodgers

  • Ron: Grandal and d’Arnaud, d’Arnaud and Grandal. Finkle and Einhorn? These two can be flip-flopped for my liking as I see them as one in the same. Nagging injuries may always be an issue for this pair of 26 year olds, but the upside is there if they can stay on the field. 
  • Kevin: He hits for power, but that’s it. If LA keeps platooning with Ellis, he may not reach 400+ AB. Two years of bad BA means little hope for improvement. He gets a boost in OBP leagues, but 5×5 shouldn’t get sucked in.

13. Derek Norris – Padres

  • Jim: I see Norris as a young version of Miguel Montero, someone who will put up solid numbers each year.  He could even get a bump in value if he learns to hit righties a little better.
  • Will: Norris had a drop in his walk rate, but did have a respectable .153 ISO and I expect the OBP to go back up to the .350 range. Norris is a very serviceable C2 and should fall in the top 20 overall for catchers. 

14. Stephen Vogt – A’s

  • Kevin: There’s Posey, and then there’s everyone else. With that in mind, you might as well gamble on Vogt. First half BA was due to lucky BABIP, yes, but second half BA was due to unlucky BABIP. A groin injury was also a likely culprit for reduced second half numbers. He’s not the first half guy, and he’s not the second half. He is his full season line (and maybe a bit more), which is top-5 worthy.
  • Will: Vogt is no Spring chicken, but in what was basically his first full season, he finished 10th in wOBA and 6th in homers among catchers with at least 100 plate appearances. I like Vogt and think he can provide some good ol’ fashioned production on the cheap.

15. Matt Wieters – Orioles

  • Jim: I’ll admit to being a hater.  There are signs he could be a similar player to Brian McCann (the current version), but some of his peripherals make me doubt his contact abilities.  I was wrong once though, so….
  • Zak: While no one is suggesting that he can travel through the space time continuum or DH in the national league–people used to, honest–I still hold out hope that Weiters can contribute to fantasy teams in the coming years. 2014 was looking like the breakout before injuries struck. They struck again in 2015 and he didn’t have a good season. Still, I think health is the only obstacle to 20 home runs. They may come cheap.

16. Wilson Ramos – Nationals

  • Paul: We finally got to see what Ramos could do if he stayed healthy, and you can’t help but be a little disappointed. As the season wore on, Ramos got worse hitting just .197 in the second half. He’s still just 28 and may have better years ahead, but there is no chance I’m taking him except as a late round flier. 
  • Zak: His plate discipline tanked in what was a healthy year by his standards. But his power is something you can count on. If the average creeps up he could be useful, and he’s young enough to last a little while.

17. Welington Castillo – Diamondbacks

  • Jim: He added 14 feet to his average flyball distance, but his LD% fell for a third straight year, his HR/FB% is unsustainable, his K’s are high, he doesn’t swing enough and doesn’t make great contact when he does.  Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit, but I’m not feeling it.
  • Paul: Castillo is 28 years old and coming off a season where he was the 4th best catcher with 19 HR in just 342 AB‎.  Most of the damage he did was as a Diamondback, hitting 17 HR in 4 months. Arizona is a great situation for him to be in, with a solid lineup and an outstanding hitters park. Any catcher than can hit 20 HR deserves strong consideration for fantasy and he’ll likely be available late in drafts. 

18. Miguel Montero – Cubs

  • Ron: It is not difficult to imagine Montero producing a line you can tolerate from your fantasy backstop for the next three or four years. A .240 average and something in the neighborhood of 15 home runs is not exciting, but in deeper formats you could certainly do worse. 
  • Zak: Montero is a serviceable option who isn’t going to be breaking out, but he also will not damage your team too badly. When it comes to second catchers, that’s actually a compliment.

19. Caleb Joseph – Orioles

  • Ron: I get the career backup vibe from Caleb Joseph. He fell into some at bats this year, and maybe the Orioles give him some rope in 2016 with Wieters possibly moving on. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Joseph’s 2015 performance is as good as it gets for him and he finds himself sharing time sooner than later.
  • Jim: He showed in the minors he can hit for a better average than we saw in 2015.  I’ll take a leap of faith here and give him the benefit of the doubt.  He could pan out to be a step or two above a replacement level player.

20. Yadier Molina – Cardinals

  • Paul: ‎I admit to never really considering Molina for this list. He’s 33 years old and has seen his power all but vanish over the past two seasons. Even if he magically improves next year, he still wouldn’t be a strong option for dynasty leagues. 
  • Will: Yadi has seen a drop in both ISO and wOBA in each year since 2012, and at 33 years of age, that trend doesn’t seem like it will reverse itself anytime soon. If you can get him on the cheap he can still give you some backup catcher-like production for a few more years.


A number of other catchers received a ranking on one or two lists, but ultimately fell short of making the cut.  There were some older backstops (Nick Hundley, Robinson Chirinos), players who got their first full taste of the majors (James McCann, Christian Bethancourt, Tom Murphy), and two who could be contributors in the future (Gary Sanchez, Peter O’Brien).  McCann, Bethancourt and Murphy could appear here next season should they take a step forward and prove themselves.  The same goes for Sanchez and O’Brien (who were the only two ranked on more than one list); both are worth stashing, but you will need an established catcher from the group above for now.

That wraps up our catcher rankings.  Tomorrow begins our first base coverage which will wrap up next Sunday with the top 25 first basemen.

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16 thoughts on “2016 Catcher Dynasty/Keeper Rankings”

  1. Gentlemen – Love the columns and as always, it’s that time again and I’m back for some keeper advice. I’m coming off my second straight title in my keeper league and I was wondering how you feel Kyle Schwarber’s value could change if he loses catcher eligibility after this coming season and is solely an OF. I am loaded on the pitching front – I have Kershaw, Bumgarner, Price, Scherzer, Felix, Jose Fernandez, and Carlos Carrasco as my top 7 arms. We start 6 each week. My question, should I be trying to flip any of these arms for a guy like Schwarber and would him potentially being an OF only in 12 months change who you would offer in exchange for him?

    1. It depends on the format. If this is a points league, I am hoarding all those arms and finding value to fill my offensive positions. Trading a SP for an OF is almost always a losing move on a points league unless the outfielder is much better than the pitcher. It is too easy to find short-term producers on the waiver wire.

      If this is a category league, give me Schwarber for Carrasco. All those aces would be overkill in a category league.

  2. I would not trade any of your first 6 arms away unless I was getting an elite established bat in return. And I especially would not trade any of them for a catcher, not even Buster Posey – unless it is a 2 catcher league; normal rules do not apply in those.

    Schwarber though is not a catcher though. He is, but come next year he might not be which raises an interesting question. If he is slated for the OF, where he could accumulate 500+ at bats. With the extra at bats, there is the potential he becomes a 30 HR guy. If the average carries along with that he does have value, but if it doesn’t and he comes up short of 30 you’re looking at Carlos Santana with a better average. Not bad, but not as elite as those top 6 pitchers.

    If you’re looking to make a move for a catcher, I’d stand pat and deal with and or stream the position. If it is an outfielder you seek and you have a big arm to trade, why not go for someone with more of a guarantee? I might be willing to swap Carrasco for Schwarber since he is your 7th pitcher, but other than that I would not do anything here. I like him, but unlike some others on the hype train, I’m not completely sold yet.

    1. I am completely on the hype train, but those are some impressive arms you’re talking about.
      I’m worried about the move to the OF but you’ll get at least this year with C eligibility. I can’t see him staying there long term.
      It’s not a horrible deal because of your surplus but I might try for more. Instead of Carrasco for Schwarber, I’d prefer to deal Bumgarner or Price for a bigger bat.
      Carrasco was insane last year, the ERA and W don’t show how close he was to the rest of your pack.
      As much as I love Schwarber, I’d probably pass.

  3. Thank you for the feedback. I will try to address all the comments here. Yes, it is a points league. We only start one catcher. My team is loaded across the board. I’ve been in this league for about 10 years and I made it a point to reach for minor league talent year in and year out until I found the right group of guys to hold. There were years where 75% of my keepers were minor leaguers who were 1-2 years away.

    So, it’s a 12 team auction league, H2H points, starting 6 SP, 3 RP, standard IF positions plus a MI and CI, 4 OF, 3 UTIL. I am the two time defending champ and my roster as it stands right now is McCann, Miggy, Panik, Correa, Bogaerts, Arenado, Prince, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Trout, Cargo, Cruz, Beltran, Big Papi, Sano, Grichuk, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Price, Felix, Carrasco, Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, Cueto, Shields, Zimmermann, Rosenthal, Jansen, Familia, AJ Burnett, and Masahiro Tanaka. Loaded. I can only keep 18 from that group so I’m torn between making lopsided deals to try and improve very few weaknesses and get the best possible 18 or just let guys go back into the pool and try to bid on them again. I’m torn on Felix. He has a lot of miles on that arm and I kinda feel like he would be the guy to try and flip for an established bat, if I made such a move.

    1. Looking at your rosterI see two areas that you could improve upon, first and second base. I would package one of my pitcher along with Prince or Miggy (whichever would have more value to the other team) for either Goldschmidt or Rizzo. It might be considered overpaying, but you’ll get younger and better at the position and you’re in a position where you can afford to do it. If you can’t get one of those guys, try Panic and a pitcher for Altuve – same mentality here.

      Looking at keepers, mine would be Miggy, Correa, Bogaerts, Arenado, Bryant, Harper, Trout, Sano, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Price, Felix, Scherzer, Fernandez, Jansen.
      That’s 15 with 3 to choose from out of McCann, Panik, Prince, Cargo, Cruz, Beltran, Big Papi, Grichuk, Carrasco, J Cueto, Shields, Zimmermann, Rosenthal, Familia, AJ Burnett, and Masahiro Tanaka.

      Since you are going to lose those guys, I might try a package of a number of guys to get an upgrade. You might even be able to pull of a Miggy with 2 or 3 or those leftovers for a Goldschmidt or Rizzo and hold on to those 6 big arms, or maybe Panic, Cruz (or Cargo), Carrasco and a closer for Altuve. If you have the extra talent and you’re only gonna lose it, overpay the hell out of a trade using your leftover parts to get that big guy.

  4. Would you recommend using the same strategy on guys like Donaldson, Stanton (nervous about the injury history and lack of lineup around him) or McCutchen?

    I have been in active trade talks over Altuve for a while now. Just can’t seem to find the right combination of players. The original offer I got was Altuve for Carrasco and Sano and I didn’t want to do that. Part of me is hesitant to deal Carrasco because I like having him as insurance for my top 6 arms. I really like Sano’s upside however I am saving him to use in a potential trade for Schwarber – that owner said he would only move Schwarber if Sano was part of the package.

    There are so many variables with my roster because the entire league is making lopsided offers to me. They know I can’t keep everyone but they also don’t want to compete at auction for certain guys if I just throw them back into the pool.

  5. I would do Carrasco & Sano for Altuve. I love Sano, but there is a chance that he sticks in the outfield. I’d love him as a third baseman, but just like Schwarber, his value lowers some as an outfielder. You already have Arenado & Bryant so the corner is covered. Used your excess to improve elsewhere. You’ve got Tanaka as a #7 and that would be plenty for any owner. Even Cueto is a solid #7 and while Zimmermann isn’t a strikeout artist he is a solid arm should you go that route.

    I might try for Stanton or McCutchen, but my first priority with your squad would be Goldy or Rizzo and Altuve. After that concentrate trades on the OF, maybe one of your other closers and a few parts for Chapman.

  6. okay so I made the following deal today. Carrasco, Prince, Familia and Grichuk for Altuve and Chapman. I have been getting all sorts of crazy offers for Sano that I didn’t want to include him in the deal for Altuve and reluctantly parted with Prince. I have an offer of Starlin Marte and Stephen Piscotty for Sano. Strongly leaning towards taking that.

    1. Love that you got Chapman & Altuve, especially since you did it without trading one player I mentioned as a keeper.

      While Marte & Piscotty may seem like a good deal, Altuve & Chapman now move into the keeper picture. If you make that trade, you would be able to keep Marte but probably not Piscotty. Marte for Sano isn’t a bad swap considering your stacked at 3B, but if you’re getting that many offers for Sano, aim higher.

      I think Miggy & Sano (and possibly another player) could get you Goldy (or Rizzo). You also might want to consider moving Jansen. Even without such a move you’re in good shape, but 1B is an aging position and there aren’t that many young options, or I should say young elite options out there. If the Goldy/Rizzo owner isn’t interested in Sano, see if they’re interested in Marte instead. Then you make the Sano for Marte/Piscotty trade and flip Marte with Miggy (or some other combo of extra players) for your big 1B bat.

      If you pull that off, look at what you could have
      1B Goldy or Rizzo
      2B Altuve
      3B Arenado
      SS Bogaerts
      MI Correa
      CI Bryant
      OF Trout
      OF Harper
      SP Kershaw, Bumgarner, Price, Felix, Scherzer, Fernandez
      Closer Chapman, Jansen
      That’s 16 of your 18 keepers. Hell, you might have enough left over to get Posey and another outfielder and have a dream team. If you don’t pull off Goldy or Rizzo you still got Miggy for 1B and you trade Sano for the Marte/Piscotty combo or something better.

      I really hope this is a league with your clueless friends because Damn! Sick….just sick.

  7. Haha it’s actually a very competitive league. I just made it a point go young and not abort the plan no matter what. I would save all my money at auction to bid on the minor league talent and filled out my roster with free agents. There were times I just bit the bullet and flipped players in their primes for guys who wouldn’t see the majors for several years. I did that with Harper, Correa, Trout, Bumgarner, Fernandez. Teams are definitely more aware of what I’ve been doing and now, any minor leaguer with even a 5 minute ride on the hype train goes for more than they should at auction, mostly because people spend to keep the player away from me.

    I know for a fact I can’t get Goldy. I’ve tried several times. The guy who has him is basically the 2nd best team in the league and I’ve beaten him in the finals each of the last two years. Rizzo I might be able to land.

    The owner who has Sano has a ton of young hitting talent. Buxton, Lindor, Moncada, Franco, Conforto, Piscotty as well as more established names like Heyward and Marte. He told me he would move anyone other than Moncada and Franco. I am down on Buxton but a Marte/Lindor package intrigues me if he would go for it. Thoughts on who I should target from his lot should I move Sano to him?

  8. If the Rizzo owner doesn’t have a shortstop, I might target Lindor who you can then use in a Rizzo package – so Marte/Lindor sounds nice to me, even if you have to include one of those other names you’re not keeping to do it. Conforto/Lindor might turn out even better as Conforto has the ability to turn out better than Marte. It’s a gamble, but based upon your past actions that’s how your entire team was built. You could then keep Conforto and package Lindor away (who you don’t need with Bogaerts and Correa).

    If first base isn’t in the cards, you could gamble on Schwarber; he should get enough at bats behind the plate this year to qualify for C next year. Or go for Posey, maybe dArnaud. For me, I would just go for Posey since he’s the guaranteed product. Even if he only has 2-3 good years left before the Giants move him to 1B, your team is build to win and dominate now so why not go for the best.

    I see Buxton’s name being talked about alot , but I think this one is more hype and will take years to pan out if he does so I’m not sure I would go there. You’ll find many to say the opposite so I guess he’s a coin flip of a target if you can’t get Lindor and Conforto or Marte.

  9. Update time! Haha. I made the following trades this week:

    Miguel Sano and Aroldis Chapman for Jason Heyward, Stephen Piscotty, Michael Conforto and Delin Betances.

    Felix Hernandez for Lance McCullers, Patrick Corbin and Trea Turner. I just think the road for Felix is about to get bumpy. Lots of mileage on that arm and the $30 price tag was too much for me, especially when I was getting that young talent back and the strength of my other arms – Kershaw, Bumgarner, Price, Scherzer and Jose.

    Between the two moves I shed roughly $60 in salary and picked up a bunch of moveable pieces. I already received this offer for Mookie Betts – Panik, Conforto and Trevor Rosenthal.

    Essentially I have about 24 guys for 20 spots now. Ive been told by the Rizzo and Goldy owners that they will not move either player.


    That leaves 2 spots for guys like Betances, Jansen, Rosenthal, Cueto, Turner, Panik.

  10. You have to keep Betances. Even if he isn’t closing his numbers (combined with your pitchers) are too good to pass up. And if Miller ends up being traded you’re in with a top closer.

    I would accept the Betts for Rosenthal, Panik and Conforto. This basically comes down to Betts or Conforto since Panik is a non factor for keepers and with your final keeper spot I’d be looking at Jansen over Rosenthal. I don’t think you will find many that wouldn’t take Betts over Conforto – if you take this then Betts slides into Conforto’s keeper spot leaving you one more between Jansen, Cueto and Turner.

    That final spot really comes down to present need vs future potential. Jansen would be a great closer to hold on to and makes the most sense. Cueto is an interesting arm depending on where he lands. You’ve got a stacked staff, so he would be either insurance or trade bait. Turner is a luxury item since you have Bogaerts, but if he hits the ground running you’ve got a good MI guy or trade bait. I lean towards Jansen just based upon your current keepers.

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