Any plans for the Tigers to call up catcher Bryan Holaday when rosters expand in September have been sufficiently dashed. The catcher recently injured his thumb during a game in with Triple-A Toledo and will likely miss the rest of the season.
The news comes as a blow to the Tigers given Holaday’s status as the team’s third catcher. Third-string catchers are generally locks to be called up during September when rosters expand simply based on the beating catchers take. In other words, more depth is always nice.
Detroit will have to find different depth, at least for this season.
Holaday was hitting .205 in 46 Triple-A games, but put up much better numbers at the big-league level. The 27-year-old produced a .271 batting average and 12 RBI in only 16 games. The catcher spent last season as Alex Avila’s primary backup, but was sent to Toledo this time around thanks to James McCann’s emergence. It’s widely thought that Holaday has the inside track in terms of being McCann’s backup next season should Avila depart via free agency in the offseason.
Given that McCann, Avila and Holaday are the only catchers on the Tigers’ 40-man roster, a move will have to be made to add another. There is an open spot on the 40-man roster, but that spot is likely going to Kyle Lobstein, who is nearing a return from an injury of his own.
Regardless of who vacates a 40-man roster slot, Detroit will likely be in the market for a new catcher. There are a few in-house options, as well as the possibility that a number of players could hit the waiver wire once teams start expanding their rosters come September.
In terms of in-house options, Detroit already has both Manny Pina and Miguel Gonzalez in Toledo, but their respective numbers don’t inspire much confidence.
The 28-year-old Pina is a career .188 hitter in the majors. His Triple-A batting average (.239) isn’t much better.
Gonzalez has minimal big-league experience, but did collect two hits in nine plate appearances with the White Sox two years ago. However, he did strike out (three) more times than he did reach base. Gonzalez has hit an underwhelming .195 in 28 games with Toledo.
All told, the Pina/Gonzalez duo has ten games of major league experience.
If Pina or Gonzalez isn’t handed the role of third-string catcher, let’s be clear, Detroit isn’t going to give up much more than a PTNBL/cash for a catcher who likely will have to beat Holaday for a job next spring training.
That being said, there are players cut all the time. Both Eric Fryer and Taylor Teagarden were recently designated for assignment, and while neither is a world-beater, they are solid third-choice catchers.
Reserve catchers can become available at the drop of a hat given other team’s personnel decisions. When one becomes available in the coming months, don’t be surprised to see the Tigers pounce on one.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.