Fantasy Baseball 2023 Rankings Tiers: Catcher Shuffle Up

It's time to kick off the Shuffle Up series for fantasy baseball 2023. What follows are my suggested salaries if you play in a Salary Cap Draft format. Catchers go through the car wash first. We'll get to other positions later in the walk-up to Opening Day.

My salaries are unscientific in nature and meant primarily to show how I rank the players and, more specifically, where the clusters of talent are. Your list will look different, of course. That's why we have a game.

The big tickets

$24 J.T. Realmuto

$21 Will Smith

$21 Daulton Varsho

$18 Adley Rutschman

$17 Salvador Perez

I'm unlikely to write the Realmuto check, much like I rarely go vanity tight end for the fake football season (catchers are definitely the tight ends of fantasy baseball). But that doesn't mean you can't chase JTR, who has isolated himself as the most complete player on this list. He's also buoyed by a deep Philadelphia lineup, even with Bryce Harper off the field for half the season ... Varsho maintains catcher eligibility despite playing most of the time in the outfield, and that's always one of our favorite fantasy hacks, the non-catcher catcher. The position is a grind. Catching wears you down. Playing the outfield is much easier on a player's body. Toronto's lineup is also absurdly deep, and as you've heard by now, the fences are coming in — and even with a raise in fence height, I expect this to be a net gain for the offense.

Given Perez's age, recent trend and workload, I'm not going to draft him proactively ... Rutschman is the shiny, new toy of the group, but he's a little too buzzy for me to view him as a target. I generally like to shop in the second tier, hoping to find a first-tier jumper in that group. Baltimore's park is also a buzzkill these days, the rare case of a team pushing its fences back. Camden Yards used to be offensive Disneyland; now, it's pretty close to neutral.

[Tiered Rankings: C | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | OF | Starters | Relievers]

Tier-two values

$15 Willson Contreras

$15 Sean Murphy

$14 Alejandro Kirk

$12 William Contreras

$11 MJ Melendez

$11 Tyler Stephenson

Stephenson will be one of my commonly rostered players (I already landed him in Tuesday's LABR Draft), partly because the Reds want to get him to 140-plus games without using him full-time at catcher (load management, for the win). Stephenson is the rare backstop who can provide a positive batting average, and we love offensive pieces tied to Cincinnati's bandbox of a ballpark.

Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds has fantasy value
Scott Pianowski is looking to draft Tyler Stephenson in many fantasy leagues this season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Willson Contreras changes teams but not divisions, so the jersey switch doesn't have me concerned; he knows his way around the NL Central. He's possibly ticketed for the No. 2 spot in a meaty St. Louis lineup. Yes, please ... Murphy also gets an obvious boost, trading Oakland's big park and leaky lineup for Atlanta's friendly park and robust lineup. He's also a likely career-year candidate as he steps into his age-28 season.

Talk them up, talk them down

$8 Keibert Ruiz

$8 Eric Haase

$6 Cal Raleigh

$6 Danny Jansen

$6 Travis D'Arnaud

$5 Jonah Heim

There's a lot of swing-and-miss in Raleigh's game, as he's unapologetically selling out for power. That's not uncommon in today's game, or a sin necessarily, but I'm worried the average could dip under .200 ... Ruiz hasn't yet realized the prospect potential we've heard so much about, but staring at that Washington lineup is like staring at the sun.

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Haase should provide a reasonably priced 15-18 homers and a batting average that won't be a killshot at this position. He's a good target if you fill this position in the second half of your draft.

Bargain bin

$4 Yasmani Grandal

$4 Logan O'Hoppe

$4 Gabriel Moreno

$4 Christian Vazquez

$3 Shea Langeliers

$3 Mitch Garver

$2 Joey Bart

$2 Elias Diaz

$2 Christian Bethancourt

$1 Jose Trevino

$1 Austin Nola

$1 Carson Kelly

$1 Nick Fortes

$1 Francisco Alvarez

$1 Bo Naylor

If I knew Grandal or Garver would physically hold up for a full season, I'd chase them into double digits. But at their ages, we need to stay prudent ... Bart has the potential to give us something similar to what Raleigh did last year — pop in a hard place ... Vazquez isn't a bad second catcher if your format requires two because his playing time and batting average rest in safe areas. His power upside is limited, though, and his run production will be ordinary ... Diaz is a reminder that Coors Field doesn't magically elevate all regulars into fantasy assets.