3 star MLB catchers who will top Will Smith’s new Dodgers contract

Who will be the next stud catcher that gets a big contract?

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two
Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed their long-time star catcher, Will Smith, to a huge deal. This adds to all of the money they've spent this offseason, which has been a splashy one, to say the least.

The deal is for 10 years and $140 million with deferrals, which shouldn't be a shocker. Smith is very deserving of the deal, having been one of the steadiest hitting catchers in the league since his arrival in 2019. With a career 126 OPS+, he's one of the most underrated stars in the league.

We are currently seeing a lot of young, stud hitting catchers making their way into the league, and it's possible that Smith's contract gets topped in the next few years. Catchers that can both defend well and hit are a pretty rare commodity, and with some younger ones on the rise, the catching position has become more exciting.

1. Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles

I think this is the clear next guy up. Arguably the best catcher in baseball, he's coming up on his arbitration years and will be due for an extension soon. Basically since his arrival he has been considered one of the best in baseball and pretty much solidified that in 2023. After his second-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting in 2022, he stepped it up at the plate.

In 154 games, he posted a .277 average with 20 home runs, 31 doubles and a .809 OPS leading to a 128 OPS+ in his second season in the big leagues. He has shown great discipline as well, walking 92 times to 101 strikeouts. A switch hitter, he's capable from both sides, which is valuable. Oh, and he's only 26-years-old.

Rutschman is becoming one of the stars of the league, which was put on full display at last year's Home Run Derby when he hit from both sides of the plate. Smith's contract could be used as the baseline for his extension.

2. Gabriel Moreno, Arizona Diamondbacks

Moreno is another of the exciting young catchers who have broken into the league. Arizona acquired him in the trade that sent Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was pretty surprising to many that Moreno was included.

Moreno became the full-time catcher in Arizona last season. In 111 games he slashed .284/.339/.408 with 19 doubles and seven home runs. However, he really broke out onto the scene in the playoffs when he hit four home runs including one in their 9-1 win in the World Series.

Moreno hasn't proven it to the level that Rutschman has, but he was a consensus top prospect and has shown a ton at the plate. Not only that, but he is an elite defender. He won the Gold Glove in the NL and has the best caught-stealing percentage of any catcher, according to Statcast. He has one of the highest ceilings of any catcher in the league.


3. Yainer Diaz, Houston Astros

Diaz had a big breakout for Houston in 2023 and proved that he can really hit. He's not the big-name, top-10 prospect that Rutschman and Moreno were, but he had a huge breakout season and looked really promising.

He hit 23 home runs, 22 doubles and drove in 60 runs to the tune of a .846 OPS in 104 games in 2023. One thing that is unique about Diaz is that he was not a full-time catcher in 2023, also playing first base. One big reason for that was the presence of Martin Maldanado in Houston; the two were splitting time.

With Maldanado playing for the Chicago White Sox this year, it seems like Diaz will get more time behind the plate. He's not the elite defender that Maldanado is, but with more time, he can improve. He's going to be another above-league-average bat in the Astros lineup heading into 2024 and if he continues it, could see a big contract in his future.

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