Dodgers 2023 spring training position preview: catchers

Dodgers 2023 spring training position preview: catchers

Dodgers pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout of the spring on Feb. 15, with a smattering of other players who are on World Baseball Classic Rosters also in attendance. As we count down to the opening of camp, we’re analyzing the various position groups on the roster. Today, the catchers. Previously: outfielders, infielders.

2022 RECAP

With just two full seasons under his belt (thanks to the pandemic), 27-year-old Will Smith has already grown into a key part of the Dodgers’ everyday lineup and one of the most productive catchers in the National League. With Max Muncy slumping for much of the 2022 season, Smith moved into a prime position in the lineup, starting 111 games in the third or fourth spot in the order and hitting .260 with an .807 OPS, 24 home runs and a career-high 87 RBIs (the most by any MLB catcher last season). Though Smith was surprisingly left off the NL All-Star team at midseason, he was voted to the All-MLB second team behind Philadelphia’s JT Realmuto after the season. The Dodgers’ satisfaction with Austin Barnes as a backup is evident in the two-year, $7 million contract extension they gave him in July.


Smith and Barnes return as the Dodgers’ tandem behind the plate. Eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this winter, Smith signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract for 2023. Signing him to a contract extension could be on the Dodgers’ agenda in the months ahead.


With Smith a candidate to make his first All-Star team in 2023 and two top prospects at the position, catching might be the strongest position in the Dodgers’ organization (even after trading away Keibert Ruiz and Connor Wong). Diego Cartaya is in the top 20 of every prospect ranking you can name heading into 2023 (No. 18 in Baseball America’s Top 100). At 21, Cartaya’s potential is just that for now. Minor injuries have limited his playing time and his 95 games for Class-A Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga last year represent his fullest season to date. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ first pick in the 2022 draft (40th overall), Dalton Rushing, made an impressive pro debut, batting .424 with eight home runs and a 1.317 OPS in 28 games at Rancho Cucamonga before earning a promotion to Great Lakes for their postseason. Like Cartaya, though, Rushing is a long way from Dodger Stadium.


This looks like the most stable position on the Dodgers’ roster for the foreseeable future. If anything, Cartaya or Rushing could become trade chips at the deadline.