Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: William Contreras, MJ Melendez catching on; Roansy Contreras back in rotation

The catcher position is normally just about survival. Unless you were willing to overpay for one of the handful of players who distinguish themselves from the heap of mediocrity, you’re probably just swapping out one hot hand for the next, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Well, it just so happens there are two prime candidates to become something more permanent — and no, I’m not referring to recent call-up Adley Rutschman, who was near universally rostered even prior to his promotion (such is the extent of our desperation at the position). The two I’m referring to are also rookies, but much more widely available, and their actual performance has put them in a position to play more often than even the typical catcher..

The first is William Contreras, brother of the Cubs’ Willson Contreras. Though only 24 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues, he’s performed so well as a backup that the Braves have begun to embrace him as a focal point in their lineup, even to the point of playing him out of position.

He got the start in left field Monday, batting second, and served as the DH Tuesday, also batting second. His contributions in both games — two hits, including a double, in the first and a walk-off winner in the second — have only bolstered the Braves’ belief in him, no doubt. He had already clubbed six homers in just 10 games prior to Monday’s start, making such high-quality contact that Statcast had him with a .319 xBA and .831 xSLG entering Tuesday.

The other is the 58 percent-rostered MJ Melendez, who has been filling in for Salvador Perez (sprained thumb). He homered Tuesday for the third time in only eight games since Perez went down, which shouldn’t be surprising given that Melendez led the minors with 41 home runs last year.

He was already making occasional starts at DH even before Perez went down, and it’s not like the Royals lineup is overflowing with competent hitters. Perez has begun taking hacks again and may be on the verge of returning, but Melendez has earned the right to stay in the lineup even when he does. The two could alternate between catcher and DH.

What’s most exciting about Contreras and Melendez is that they don’t just stand out for their productivity. The kind of roles they’re in position to fill would make them near-everyday players, which would mean even more at-bats than the typical No. 1 catcher. That sort of playing-time advantage is itself enough to vault a player into the top 10 at the position, even before accounting for production.

Given how dispensable the majority of the position is, I’m already willing to rank Contreras and Melendez 11th and 12th at catcher. And if you also wanted to swap Nos. 9 and 10, Mitch Garver and Alejandro Kirk, for them, I’d be OK with it.

Let’s see who else is available on the waiver wire …

Possible waiver wire pickups

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