The Brewers desire to upgrade at catcher has been well documented this offseason. After Winter Meetings, Matt Arnold indicated that he intends to remain active in the catcher market. It is possible that the Brew Crew will have to look at outside of the box options in order to upgrade. One potential player to target is MJ Melendez from the Royals.
MJ Melendez was called up to the big leagues in May last year. He was the Royals second ranked prospect and was ranked as high as 49th among all baseball prospects. In 2021, he was the minor league home run champion in which he belted 41 long balls.
During his first major league season, Melendez slashed .217/.313/.394/.706. He hit 18 home runs, collected 62 RBI, and drew 66 free passes. His 12.4 walk percentage was very impressive for a rookie and he struck out just 24.5% of the time as well.
In order to get his bat in the lineup more frequently, the Royals had him learn outfield on the fly. Overall he played 78 games at catcher, 23 in left field, 23 at designated hitter, and 15 in right field. His defensive versatility is similar to Diamondbacks catcher/outfielder Dalton Varsho, who could also be a Brewers trade target.
Could the Brewers look to target this versatile catcher from the Royals?
There is no indication that the Royals are looking to trade Melendez. Given his skill set, performance in 2022, and the fact that he is under club control until 2028, acquiring Melendez would be costly. One thing working in the Brewers favor is that the Royals are thin at outfielders. This is an area of strength for the Brew Crew.
In order to acquire Melendez, the Brewers would likely have to part ways with one of Garrett Mitchell, Esteury Ruiz, Sal Frelick, or Joey Weimer. Trading away a top outfield prospect in order to bring in a young and promising versatile catcher could pay big dividends for the Brewers.
The biggest catcher on the trade block this offseason has been the Athletics Sean Murphy. Reports have indicated that he will cost several major league ready players. It’s possible that the Brewers turn to the Royals to see if Melendez would be slightly cheaper. Melendez is not an established player like Murphy is, so this could bring his cost down.
It seems unlikely that the Royals will want to part ways with Melendez, but the Brewers staff should at least reach out to see if a trade could be worked out.
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