Welcome back to our Kings of Kauffman offseason series analyzing the 2023 performances of various KC Royals players. Up today is catcher Freddy Fermin.
Speculation that the KC Royals might trade Salvador Perez simmered during the annual trade deadline period this summer, then cooled considerably when no deal materialized. But a recent media report out of Chicago suggesting the White Sox want him breathed new life into the Perez rumor mill.
While one writer who regularly covers the Sox, Vincent Parise of our sister FanSided site Southside Showdown, recently rejected the notion that trading for him would be a wise move for Chicago to make, only time will tell if the Royals actually part with Perez.
And if they do, who will take his place as Kansas City's regular catcher?
Perhaps Freddy Fermin, whose promise and potential was on full display this season.
Rookie Freddy Fermin was excellent for the Royals in 2023
Should Kansas City move on from Perez, the strength of what Fermin accomplished this year makes him the leading in-house candidate to take over behind the plate. His previous big league experience limited to just the seven at-bats he received last season, Fermin efficiently exploited the chance the Royals gave him when they called him up a month into the 2023 campaign.
He immediately stepped into the backup catching role some had expected MJ Melendez to at least partially fill and was manager Matt Quatraro's first choice to catch when Perez played first base, took his turns as the club's designated hitter, or simply took a day off. Fermin started 55 of the 70 games in which he played and, despite missing almost the entire final month of the season after fracturing a finger (and undergoing corrective surgery), finished with nine home runs, 32 RBIs, a .281 average, a 112 OPS+, and a 108 wRC+.
Fermin also fared well behind the plate, throwing out 31% of would-be base stealers, a mark 10% above league average.
What grade should catcher Freddy Fermin get?
All things considered, Fermin, who's under club control trough the 2028 season, played superbly this year and came close to being the Royals' best rookie of the campaign. We'll give him an A for 2023.