There are now just two weeks remaining in the 2021 regular season, and while the immediate focus is on the playoff races, a potentially eventful offseason is waiting just over the horizon. There are a lot of unknowns at the moment, especially with the elephant in the room: the expiring collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires on December 1st, and there are many questions about what will come after that, especially with regard to service time, luxury tax, qualifying offers, and many other issues.
So, which players will be navigating these uncharted waters? Let’s take a look, starting with the catchers. (Players’ age for the 2021 season is listed in parentheses.)
Yan Gomes (34): Gomes is probably the top of the class, which should tell you how weak this year’s catching market is as a whole. That’s not to take anything away from Gomes, who is having another solid season. But there won’t be any massive catcher contracts given out this year like there were last year for J.T. Realmuto and James McCann. Gomes was last on the market after helping the Nationals win the World Series in 2019. The Nats re-signed him to a two-year, $10MM deal and then traded him to Oakland at this year’s deadline. On the season as a whole, he’s hitting .252/.295/.425, for a wRC+ of 91 and 1.2 fWAR. Gomes has been fairly reliable health-wise, having only spent about three weeks on the IL over the past five years, missing most of July 2021 with an oblique strain.
Manny Pina (34): Pina has been playing backup to Omar Narvaez in Milwaukee this season but has done well enough that some club could view him as an everyday option, as he’s having a solid season. In 67 games, he’s hitting .201/.312/.459, for a wRC+ of 106. His walk and strikeout rates have both improved compared to recent seasons as well, suggesting there may be something sustainable there. Combined with his quality glovework, he’s been worth 1.6 fWAR on the year. Since having his contract selected by the Brewers in August of 2016, he is hitting .248/.318/.417, for a wRC+ of 94.
Robinson Chirinos (38): Chirinos had to settle for a minor league deal with the Yankees in the most recent offseason. After being released in July, he was signed to a major league deal by the Cubs. Since then, he’s been a solid backup/bench contributor, slashing .232/.330/.463 over 100 plate appearances. Apart from an awful showing in the shortened 2020 season, Chirinos has a wRC+ over 100 every year from 2015-2021.