Sunday, November 8, 2015

A catcher the Twins should sign right now

A few days ago, I looked into all 20 free agent catchers and suggested one who was the best fit for the Twins.   The criteria were that he should:

  • be left handed or switch hitting, so he complements Suzuki in a platoon
  • hit RHPs well, because he will be hitting mainly against them; with his performance against LHPs meaningless,  because Suzuki will be facing those
  • and, do not cost a ton, because the Twins have few more holes (LH power, bullpen) which will cost $ to fill
  • be accustomed to be a starter, because he will have more PAs than Suzuki 
  • be a better defender than Suzuki.
 Based on that criteria, the best free agent fit for the Twins was Brayan Pena.

As I indicated back then, there will be more than 20 MLB and high MiLB free agents, since the MiLB free agency is just beginning.   And a very intriguing player joined the ranks of the minor league free agents; and the Twins should sign him to a MiLB contract with an invite to Spring Training as soon as possible.   This does not negate the need to sign someone like Brayan Pena, but there is absolutely no risk in signing 32 year old George Kottaras to a minor league contract. 

Kottaras is a 6'. 200 lbs, left handed Catcher who spend seven MLB seasons with seven teams and has been shuttling between the majors and AAA.   In seven seasons in the majors he hit .215/.326/.411 overall in 313 games (858 PAs) and .223/.323/.439  in 267 games (680 PAs) against RHPs.  Kottaras satisfies the top 3 criteria, and it would be senseless not to try to sign him to a minor league contract, since there is no risk.  His best season in the majors was 2012 when he hit .211/.351/.415 in 85 games between Milwaukee and Oakland.  That season he hit .207/.335/.434 against LHPs (including 9 HRs in 145 ABs,) showing remarkable isoP and isoD against lefties. 

Another remarkable statistic about Kottaras is that he is hitting .230/.378/.492  in high leverage situations (166 PAs), and .208/.381/.393 with Runners In Scoring Position (237 PAs).   He spend all last season in the AAA for Toronto and the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .238/.372/.429 in 47 games (181 PAs), and .257/.423/.514 against RHPs.  He has been cosidered a top defender and was the personal catcher of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield with the Red Sox, the last few years he has been throwing out fewer runners than the average catcher, however his blocking skills are still top-notch.

I see no reason for the Twins not to sign him to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invitation; worse comes to worse, he could start in Rochester replacing departing Free Agents Eric Fryer and Allan de San Miguel.  

 

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