SportsLine.com just released their Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, featuring rankings, projections, auction values, and more. Find potential catcher sleepers to target by signing up for a SportsLine subscription today.
The Kansas City Royals were already one of the worst teams in baseball. The catcher position was already the worst in Fantasy. They both got worse on Friday when it was reported Salvador Perez would have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2019 season.
Perez was a consensus top-10 catcher in Fantasy rankings and had been a consistent top-eight finisher at the position over the past six seasons. His current replacement, Cam Gallagher will not be able to fill his void in the Royals lineup or the catcher rankings.
Gallagher has just six extra base hits in his 96 career plate appearances. He did hit .278 in 585 plate appearances at Triple-A, but has just a career .671 OPS in the minors. For now it's hard to see how he cracks the top-25 at catcher. The best hope for a Perez replacement is that the Royals sign or trade for a starter. It's too bad for Fantasy purposes that Matt Wieters signed with the Cardinals when he did.
As for the Royals lineup, the effect on their other hitters is likely limited. Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi were already being drafted as part of a terrible lineup. It's possible this provides a more clear path to a middle-of-the-order home for Jorge Soler and/or Ryan O'Hearn, but they're both AL-Only options to start the season. Billy Hamilton is unaffected as a steals specialist at the bottom of the order.
At the catcher position, this provides more separation for the few truly good options. J.T. Realmuto is worth a top-40 pick and Gary Sanchez isn't far behind. Wilson Ramos, Willson Contreras, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal and Yadier Molina (assuming his injury isn't serious) form the next tier. It's also the last tier you can feel confident in.
If you miss out on one of the top seven catchers the best thing you can do is hope for upside with young catchers like Danny Jansen, Francisco Mejia and Jorge Alfaro. There are other options who provide more stability, but this group of young catchers provides the best hope for production you might actually feel good about.
Jansen is by far my favorite of the group, with upside in batting average and very good plate discipline. It would be no surprise if he leaps into the top-five at the position thanks in no small part to the fact he should be among the league leaders in plate appearances at the position.
The one final consideration is what this does to the Royals pitching staff. There wasn't a lot to get excited about here, but Brad Keller was a popular SPARP in points leagues while both Jake Junis and Danny Duffy had sleeper appeal. Perez is a veteran catcher with five gold gloves, who also had experience working with all of these pitchers. Any positive impact he had on the group will likely be lost, no matter who is behind the plate.
All injuries are a loss. They're always a negative. Sometimes they provide us with a Fantasy silver lining of a deep sleeper. This is not one of those times, unless the Royals make a trade of some sort. The team gets worse, the position gets worse, and we all get a little more desperate at catcher.
So which Fantasy Baseball sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued catchers can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Scooter Gennett's huge breakout last season, and find out.