Trying to figure out what San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller is doing is an impossible task. He operates with the utmost secrecy and you never really know what he has scheming in that brain of his. He has shown a propensity to run things his own way in his one year of tenure as the Padres G.M.
When the Padres put a claim in on Josmil Pinto early in the offseaon it looked as though the Padres were positioning themselves for a potential move. Pinto is out of minor league options and the Padres would have needed to keep him on the 25 man roster for him to remain a Padre. Pinto has since been designated for assignment by the club and was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers. His Padre tenure lasted a little over four weeks.
Pinto was released because the Padres acquired Christian Benthancourt from the Braves. Benthancourt is a defensive talent who has a skill set similar to Austin Hedges.
Bethancourt provides a great glove behind the dish, but lacks offensive consistency to be a force at the moment. The Padres gave up right handed pitcher Casey Kelly and young catcher Ricardo Rodriguez for him. The Padres are shuffling around catchers and it appears a trade might be on the horizon…. well… possibly.
Being that Bethancourt and Hedges are very similar in terms of what they bring to the table, you would suspect the Padres are going to want to retain Norris as their starting catcher. Both Bethancourt and Hedges make excellent backup catchers, but Bethancourt has no minor league options left. He will have to remain at the major league level. General manager A.J. Preller has already indicated that Hedges is a candidate to start the season in the minors for more seasoning. But is that the best scenario for his development?
So what will happen with the catching situation? Will the team deal one of the duo that handled almost all the catching duties last year. Perhaps they instead just allow Hedges more time in the minors and hopefully address the issue at some point during the 2016 season. Preller is no going to make a trade for sake of just trading.
In all honesty the Padres are probably still assessing the situation. The trade for Bethancourt and the claiming of Josmil Pinto show that the team is exploring catching options. Norris provides a great offensive weapon for a team and his defense is improving in some aspects. He still has some work to do with his pitch receiving skills but he threw runners out last season at a very respectable pace.
Padres fans will just remain patient and trust that A.J. Preller is doing the right thing to improve the team. Having an excess of talent at a position that is weak throughout baseball is a positive thing for the Padres. A.J. Preller will likely hold onto his catching depth until he finds a deal that makes sense. Hedges, Norris and Bethancourt provide the Friars some nice depth at catcher. The catching situation is indeed complex but in time it should straighten itself out.