Catcher Austin Hedges has agreed to terms on a one year deal for $4 million with the Cleveland Guardians, per reports.
Hedges spent two and a half seasons with the Guardians previously, having been traded to Cleveland by the San Diego Padres at the 2020 deadline as part of a six player package that sent Mike Clevinger and Greg Allen to San Diego. Hedges was a regular for the Guardians then, and started in the playoffs for them in 2020 and 2022. He will presumably be Bo Naylor’s backup in 2024.
Hedges was acquired by the Texas Rangers from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline in 2023, when it was up in the air as to whether Jonah Heim would return before 2024. Hedges didn’t play much for Texas — he appeared in 16 games, slashing .208/.208/.208 in 25 plate appearances and pitching 3.2 innings in four appearances on the mound.
However, he became a fan favorite, and was frequently seen when reaction shots of the Rangers dugout were shown, cheering on his teammates and being one of the first to congratulate them when they returned to the bench. He also reportedly would attend the offense meetings during the playoffs wearing only a jock strap, with the number of games remaining that the Rangers needed to win in order to become World Champions written on a butt cheek.
While he was but a small part of the Rangers’ championship team, it is sad to see him go. Hedges is not much of a hitter — he has a 516 OPS since the start of the 2019 season — but he is considered an elite defensive catcher, as well as a very positive clubhouse presence, and I was hoping he might be back in 2024.