Friday, July 27, 2012

George Kottaras Designated for Assignment

George Kottaras Designated for Assignment
(Or to get more Canadians & Patch a hole in the roster)

            Today, with the return of Brewers starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the disabled list, the Brewers have decided to keep rookie Martin Maldonado as their backup catcher, and as a result veteran catcher George Kottaras has been designated for assignment.  This means that they have either 10 days to either place him on waivers (and if he clears to send him to the minors), trade him, or release him.  Tom Haurdicourt (@Haurdicourt) from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal tweets…

GM Doug Melvin said he is working on trade involving C George Kottaras, who was DFA'd. Hopes to complete it in day or two

            Meanwhile at almost the exact same time in Toronto, the epidemic of injuries to the Blue Jays continued to spread not only on the mound, but to the men receiving the pitches behind it.  Now that JP Arencibia has broken his hand, the top 3 young catchers are all injured for the rest of the season, including top prospect Travis d’Arnaud (torn PCL), AA catcher AJ Jimenez (undergone Tommy John surgery).   Essentially at this point the only healthy catchers in the Jays system are major league backup Jeff Mathis, pseudo-catcher Yan Gomes, & minor league journeyman Brian Jeroloman.  

            Kottaras is the perfect option to patch over this sudden hole in the Jays system.  Even though he doesn’t make a lot of contact (career .221 Batting Average), but over the past 3 seasons he has the 4th highest walk rate among catchers with 600 PA, and also has impressive power, with the 13th highest Isolated Power over the same period of time.  Even if we assume his walk rate is inflated due to him hitting 8th in the NL in front of the pitcher, he’s still a very capable backup, in fact one of the better ones in all of major league baseball. 

            To put a cherry on top, he’s a good Canadian kid, born and raised in Markham, which isn’t really something that should come into play, but is just a nice bonus. Even better yet for Anthopolous, not only is he Canadian, but he's another Greek-Canadian, which given how well Anthopolous has done has to be seen as a point in his favour.

            On to the actual baseball reasons, I really view this as the perfect situation, for a number of reasons;
  1. Kottaras’s skill set is a very nice compliment to Jeff Mathis, since Kottaras is excellent at getting on base, and that’s one of the few things that even this revitalized version of Jeff Mathis will never do well.
  2. Since he’s been DFA’d the cost of acquiring him will be little to nothing.  I’d think it would be possible to get him for as little as cash or a Player To Be Named Later, but at most it would cost a C level prospect (like a David Cooper, or Marcus Knecht)
  3. He wouldn’t even necessarily be a short term option.  He’s only in his 1st year of arbitration (and as a super 2 player to boot).  He wouldn’t be eligible for free agency til 2016.  With Jeff Mathis as a free agent this off-season, getting Kottaras might give them some options going forward.
  4. Lastly, like most Canadian baseball players, Kottaras hits left-handed, which is an especially useful skill for a catcher.  Given that every notable catchers in the Blue Jays (from Arencibia all the way down to AJ Jimenez in AA) are right handed, it could increase the chances of him sticking around going forward.

            While this might seem like a minor transaction, but I think it would make an awful lot of sense, and the downside is basically nothing.

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