Guardians Swing Trade With Marlins, After Free Agent Signing

Sunday was not a day of rest for the Cleveland Guardians, as they were busy completely revamping their catching position, first by signing a free agent, then by dealing Christian Bethancourt to the Miami Marlins.

Before the Guardians shipped out the strong-armed Bethancourt in return for cash considerations, they signed an even better defensive backstop in Austin Hedges to a free agent deal. 

Hedges gets $4M on a one-year contract with Cleveland to return to the team he was with from 2020-2022. The Guardians obviously realized what they were missing in 2023: The 31-year-old Hedges is known as one of, if not the best, catchers in the sport. He's racked up 86 Defensive Runs Saved in his 9-year career, which is 9th among all players at all positions over that span. 

In addition, Hedges has allowed the fewest passed balls of any catcher with at least 4,000 innings behind the plate since his debut season in 2015. 

At the plate, as a hitter, he provides absolutely no offense, with a .189 lifetime average and an OPS+ of just 55. But Hedges is so good behind the plate, that there's no doubt that the Guardians have given their pitching staff a big boost in 2024, without even signing a pitcher. 

He spent 2023 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers, earning a World Series ring in the process.

As for the Marlins, they had pegged catching as a primary position they needed to improve this offseason, and they've done that with Bethancourt, who provides a little bit of offense, and a strong throwing arm. 

Photo: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports