Another Free Agent Catcher Off the Board - Mike Zunino to the Guardians

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Another Free Agent Catcher Off the Board – Mike Zunino to the Guardians

Chicago Cubs

With just a 35-year-old Yan Gomes (plus PJ Higgins) pencilled in behind the plate for 2023, the Chicago Cubs have a pretty serious need at catcher this offseason. That’s why they were connected to Sean Murphy and Christian Vázquez before both were gobbled up yesterday. But the options continue to come off the board, with Mike Zunino signing on in Cleveland for relative pennies.

Zunino had an absolutely MONSTER season two years ago with the Rays (134 wRC+, tons of defensive value, and 4.5 WAR), but missed most of 2022 after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in his left arm. Depending on how well he’s healing up, this could be a really nice deal for the Guardians — though no one is expecting a repeat of 2021, which was an offensive outlier and occurred over only 109 games.

In any case, Zunino gets far less than Vázquez, who reportedly signed for 3 years and $30 million. Zunino is young enough, however, to run 2023 into a platform season for another multi-year contract. Good for him.

My level of angst for this deal is pretty low, as Zunino was pretty much never connected to the Cubs. However, the more catchers that come off the board, the more likely the Cubs get painted into a corner on (1) a player they didn’t prefer, (2) a cost they rather not meet, or (3) … just rolling with imperfect in-house options and hoping for the best.



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami