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Mariners Black Friday shopping: let’s browse some catchers

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Who’s ready to fist fight a suburban parent for A.J. Ellis?

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Every holiday season, whether spent with family, friends, or alone, carries a wave of inescapable sensation. Sure, the food is tasty and often gratuitous, and the days off from work are rejuvenating. But the holidays of late-autumn and early-winter are always more memorable for the feelings they elicit than the extra sleep or calories.

Of course, everyone chooses to celebrate differently, as they are totally within their rights to do. But for me, one feeling always vaults to the top of the annual goodness list. Step aside, aunts and uncles who cannot comprehend an un-married, not-dating person. Move over, Macy’s Day Parade. Fade deeper into irrelevance, Detroit Lions.

There is no greater feeling every Thanksgiving weekend than buying stuff at super cheap prices.

For thousands of shoppers, Black Friday is the day to buy new gizmos that they’ll never need simply because of a macheted price. It’s how America was essentially conned into inviting the feds into their homes. Other, more practical consumers view Black Friday and its discounted rates as the perfect day to purchase things they’ve long needed, whether it’s for personal use or as a gift for that special someone.

As their roster stands right now, the Seattle Mariners have exactly one catcher on the 40-man roster. His name is David Freitas, and while he’s a man of rhythm and principle, he is probably not an everyday MLB catcher. Unless the Mariners are planning to tank—in which case Freitas as the starting catcher makes some sense—they’ll they’ll need to procure an able body to squat behind the plate for roughly 100 games. Joe DeCarlo is waiting in the minor league wings, but he was not a catcher until 2017. We should also never rule out a trade to bring in a new catcher, much like the exchange that sent the old one to Tampa.

In the spirit of our country’s capitalistic greed holiday, let’s peruse the catcher catalog and see if we can find a good deal. While the inventory of free agent catchers is more Wal-Mart than Barney’s, there are a few items that the Mariners could snag on the low and turn into a valuable accoutrement.

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Yasmani Grandal – 2018 stats: .241/.349/.466, 24 HR, 68 RBI, 125 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR in 140 games

Grandal is the nicest item available at the catcher store, and as such, will be the most expensive. His services are virtually unmatched by any competitors, and as a bilingual switch-hitter, he provides the versatility wanted in a big-money acquisition. Don’t worry about Grandal breaking down either. This is durable merchandise, as evidenced by the 115+ games played in each of his full MLB seasons. Buyer’s warning: be prepared to love Grandal and get great, consistent usage out of him, right up until you need him to work the most.

Wilson Ramos – 2018 stats: .306/.358/.487, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 131 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR in 111 games

Here we have a great example of a product getting better after making some tweaks to the hardware. Now is a great time to pick up a Ramos, as he will be lusted after by your contemporaries, and getting it before they do is a fun thing to brag about. Ramos will be one of those things you pick up, use almost every day, and start to underappreciate because of the steady, unassuming production. He’s like a high-end shower head.

Wilson Ramos will work, work well, and make a noticeable difference in your life, just so long as you’re willing to pay the price. (The Mariners probably should not be eyeing a high-end shower head right now.)

Martín Maldonado – 2018 stats: .225/.276/.351, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 74 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR in 119 games

Spend your Black Friday cash on a Maldonado only if you’re okay shelling out for a one-trick pony. Maldonado, to put it bluntly, cannot hit. His utility is grounded almost completely in defense, an area that he admittedly excels at. The 32-year-old won a Gold Glove in 2017, and by all accounts is a well-respected glove man. It’s just important that you know what you’re getting by committing to a Maldonado this holiday season.

As Justin Verlander said when the Astros scooped the catcher at last year’s deadline, Maldonado is always “here to shut down the running game and be a good defensive catcher back there”. You can’t get mad when you splurge on him and he gives you a .627 OPS, just like you can’t get mad that your brand-new home beer making kit doesn’t also make whisky.

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A.J. Ellis – 2018 stats: .272/.378/.344, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 105 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR in 66 games

Get yourself an A.J. Ellis if you value sentimental value over actual value. This is one of those times where the cashier swipes your card and your heart is full, even if your head is conflicted. If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog, but are skeptical about the responsibilities of pet ownership, maybe start by getting an A.J. Ellis.

He’ll be loyal. He’ll be a good friend. He’ll take a lot of walks. But, above all else, he’ll be there to lift your spirits with a soft, easy-going demeanor and big ol’ smile.

Jonathan Lucroy – 2018 stats: .241/.291/.325, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 70 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR in 126 games

You’ve heard ad nauseum from co-workers, friends, and people who you didn’t ask that La Croix is the greatest thing in the galaxy. You decide to check it out for yourself. Unfortunately, you bought Lucroy instead of La Croix. You realize immediately that this was a huge mistake, as Lucroy is super washed now. Let this be a lesson in doing your homework before embarking on a large purchase.

Brian McCann – 2018 stats: .212/.301/.339, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 82 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR in 63 games

For sale: a vintage Brian McCann! It even still works, kind of. Disclaimer: will get mad if you derive any enjoyment from it at all.

Maybe don’t expect too much of it, though, and definitely don’t think it will be anything like the 2008 version. You’re getting ye, not Graduation. Grab a McCann now before it becomes obsolete forever, or the opinions become even worse.

Rene Rivera – 2018 stats: .233/.275/.419, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 90 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR in 33 games

You had a Rene Rivera before—the 2004-2006 model to be exact—and don’t remember not liking it, so you think, why not get another one? Within minutes you realize that Rene Rivera peaked in 2014 and has been depreciating ever since. You blew your Black Friday funds on an aging, ineffective relic, and now you’re stuck with it. You are the person who bought a Zune when everyone clearly understood that the iPod was superior.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 2018 stats: .000/.125/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, -58 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR in 5 games

You think it’s fascinating and unique that Saltalamacchia has the longest last name in MLB history. It’s quirky and fun! That doesn’t mean you should do it, though. This is like buying a Talking Heads t-shirt when you don’t even listen to the Talking Heads. People see right through you and laugh in your face all winter.

In all seriousness, the catcher market is a vomit volcano. If the Mariners go the free agent route and do anything other than like a one-year bargain contract for a stopgap catcher, someone needs to take their credit card.