Marlins Sign Sandy Leon To Minors Contract (www.baseball-reference.com)

The Marlins have signed catcher

to a minor league deal.  The contract contains an invitation for Leon to attend Miami’s big league Spring Training camp.  In addition to Leon, the Marlins also officially announced six other players (infielder Eddy Alvarez, catcher Brian Navarreto, and right-handers Zach Thompson, Alexander Guillen, Anthony Bender, and Luis Madero) received spring invites on minor league contracts.

A veteran of nine big league seasons, Leon is best known for his five seasons with the Red Sox from 2015-19, a stint that saw him collect a World Series ring in 2018 and unexpectedly step up as an offensive threat (.845 OPS in 283 plate appearances) in 2016.  That 2016 campaign stands out as a big outlier amidst Leon’s overall career numbers, however, as he has a .216/.284/.327 slash line over 1379 career PA.

Leon didn’t even reach that modest level of production in 2020, as he hit .136/.296/.242 in 81 PA with the Indians.  It’s pretty clear Miami isn’t signing Leon for his bat, but rather his well-documented defensive skill — Leon is well-respected as a game-caller and he was an above-average pitch-framer in both 2018 and 2019.  Leon also has some impressive caught-stealing numbers over his career, but those totals have dipped since over the last two years, as he has only thrown out 11 of 35 runners attempting to steal since the start of the 2019 season.

The signings of both Leon and Navarreto add some depth to a Marlins catching mix that consists of Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach.  Alfaro is coming off a tough season at the plate, but as a former top prospect, he’ll be given plenty more chances to firmly establish himself as a regular backstop.  Wallach is another defense-first catcher, so with Leon now in the mix, Wallach will need a solid showing in Spring Training to retain his job on the active roster.

More analysis to come…

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