According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Guards have agreed to terms with free agent catcher Mike Zunino on Tuesday.
The pact is of the one-year variety and will pay the player $6 million.
This is a good deal for all sides involved: Zunino gets $6 million and a chance to re-establish his value and return to the market next year; and the Guardians get a starting-caliber catcher at a reasonable salary.
Zunino swings and misses a lot, but does have enormous power.
He is also an excellent defender behind the plate.
The problem is that he had to undergo thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in late July and missed most of the year.
He also wasn’t good when he was on the field, with a .499 OPS in 123 plate appearances.
Zunino Should Be Able To Rebound In 2023
He’s expected to be ready for the start of spring training and should be much, much improved considering his last fully healthy season yielded a .860 OPS and 33 home runs, in 2021.
With the pact being for one year, Cleveland will have the chance to let Bo Naylor come along at his own pace and not because of an MLB need at catcher.
“Zunino 1-year deal allows for Cleveland to break in (C) prospect Bo Naylor slowly along as Zunino is 100% healthy. Naylor doesn’t turn 23 until 2/21/23. Not sold the Guardians still won’t sign or look to trade for some more upper level catching depth,” Guardians Prospective tweeted.
Zunino 1-year deal allows for Cleveland to break in (C) prospect Bo Naylor slowly along as Zunino is 100% healthy. Naylor doesn't turn 23 until 2/21/23. Not sold the Guardians still won't sign or look to trade for some more upper level catching depth.
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) December 13, 2022
Naylor, Josh’s brother, is universally regarded as the future at the catching position in Cleveland.
The presence of Zunino, however, will take some pressure off his shoulders.