Seeing as Buster Posey has been the San Francisco Giants‘ best offensive player for the past several years, there’s no pressing need for them to upgrade at the catcher position. However, it’s common practice for every team to add a third catcher during September, and the Giants should be particularly cautious with Posey this coming month considering that he’s played in 119 games already this season and has slumped over the second half. For this reason, the team will likely call up catcher Johnny Monell after rosters expand on September 1.
The Giants will face a tough decision on whether to call up Monell or Guillermo Quiroz, who served as the backup catcher for the majority of the 2013 season. Neither player is currently on the 40-man roster. Ultimately, getting Monell’s feet wet is the more advantageous move, as the Giants already know what they have in Quiroz and should see if Monell is fit to handle the big-league backup job should the need arise next season.
Monell has had a very good season in his first year at Triple-A, hitting .282 with 20 homers and a .364 OBP. He also was impressive during major-league spring training, hitting .476 with a homer and five RBI over 21 at-bats. He had a bad stretch through most of August, but this should not prevent him from getting a shot at proving himself. Many scouts believe that Monell would be a more-than-capable major league hitter, but his defense behind the plate is questionable. An opportunity like this would give the Giants a great read on Monell’s defensive ability.
In addition, the Giants need to have Monell on the 40-man roster at the end of the season if they want to retain his rights for next season, as he will become a six-year minor-league free agent otherwise. Though they have a decent amount of catching depth in the system, Monell is a good player to have around and should be a capable backup should Hector Sanchez struggle or get injured next year.
The only unfortunate aspect to this situation is that it prevents Quiroz from coming back to the major-league team. Though the 31-year-old journeyman struggled offensively, hitting .186 over 86 big-league at-bats, he was a good defensive backstop and clubhouse presence. Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that he appreciated getting Quiroz big-league service time to help him out with pension requirements, and it would be a nice gesture to bring Quiroz back for the final month of the season. But the Giants must do what is best for the future of the team, and that would be bringing up Monell.