The Kansas City Royals this week added another catcher to their roster, claiming George Kottaras off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. It’s a fairly odd move; I wrote previously about the large number of catchers the Royals were already taking to Spring Training and this only complicates matters.
Kottaras is the third catcher on the 40-man roster and on credentials alone one would expect him to be with the big league club come Opening Day. But the Royals already had Brett Hayes to fill that role and whilst Kottaras is probably a better option he isn’t a clear step up from Hayes. Especially as the competition is only for a backup spot anyway (Salvador Perez will have the everyday job unless he picks up another injury) it is hard to see what the club gains from having two players of broadly similar ability to compete for the spot. It’s nice to add a bit of depth, but that is also something the Royals had already. Indeed, there are now going to be seven catchers on the Spring Training roster and about five of them have been in the major leagues at some point in their careers.
It’s tempting to say that even if the Royals have not made a clear addition to the side it doesn’t matter because it has not come at any real cost apart from a small salary increase. This isn’t quite true though; to make way for Kottaras on the 40-man roster, Tony Abreu was designated for assignment. Abreu had a good chance of being the backup infielder on the Opening Day roster and whilst not having him there is not quite a blow (there’s still Irving Falu he did show his utility last year and the competition between him and Falu could have been good for both players. Now that won’t happen and I don’t think it’s really worth the minimal gain by the Royals.